Kenin revels in limelight after reaching first Grand Slam final


Melbourne (AFP)

Sofia Kenin apologised to home fans at the Australian Open and said her phone was "blowing up" after the 14th seed stunned Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals on Thursday.

The Moscow-born American reached her first Grand Slam final with a surprise 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 victory over Australia's top seed and home favourite.

Kenin will play unseeded Garbine Muguruza in Saturday's final after the Spaniard defeated fourth seed Simona Halep.

"I'd like to first apologise to all of the Australian fans," said the 21-year-old Kenin.

"I know they wanted her to win, it's not easy for them. I beat the world number one," said Kenin, almost unbelieving.

Kenin is used to playing the role of party spoiler, having defeated 15-year-old fellow American Coco Gauff in the fourth round.

Kenin enjoyed a breakthrough 2019, winning her first three WTA titles, but was something of an unknown quantity at the start of the first Grand Slam of the year.

The only American left in the draw suddenly finds herself in the limelight -- and she is enjoying it there.

"I know people haven't really paid attention much to me in the past. I had to establish myself -- and I have," said Kenin.

"Now I'm getting the attention, which I like -- not going to lie.

"But my phone is blowing up these past two weeks, I haven't been able to check normal... my Instagram, Twitter, everything.

"It's blowing up, I love this attention. I'm enjoying every single moment of it."

Kenin was emotional when she defeated Gauff but this time, in the immediate aftermath of beating Barty, she looked stunned.

"I've always dreamed about this," she said, calling her Australian Open experience "surreal".

"I've worked so hard. I've put all the efforts into my practices, into my fitness," added Kenin, whose fighting spirit and tenacity has been her trademark over the last fortnight.

"All the efforts I've been doing, it's got me here.

"It's just paying off and it's like a dream come true for me."