Barty dream over in Aus Open shock
THE dream is over.
Ashleigh Barty's quest for history has been ambushed by fearless young American Sofia Kenin 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 in a monumental Australian Open semi-final upset.
Bidding to become the first local champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978, world No.1 Barty was left to lament four unconverted set points - two in the first set and two more in the second set.
"She is such a tough player, I know she is playing really amazing and I know I needed to find a way to win," Kenin said.
"Thank you guys so much. This really wasn't an easy one and I'm just so grateful and I'm just thankful for this moment.
"Honestly I am just so speechless. I honestly can't believe this. I have dreamed about this moment since I was five years old with that Andy Roddick video, I'm sure you guys saw that.
"I'm just so speechless, so thankful. I worked so hard to get here and just thanks to everyone and my dad and everyone back home.
"She came up with some really great shots, it was really tough. I knew she was not going to give it up to me, I really needed to fight out there and there is a reason why she is world No.1, but I am just so thankful for this.
Born in Russia and now resident in Florida, Kenin was identified as a prodigy when she was five.
She last year eliminated Serena Williams in the French Open before losing to Barty in the fourth round.
The baseliner shattered Barty's dreams and broke Australian hearts with a nerveless display in sweltering conditions.
Watched by Cathy Freeman, Margaret Court, Wendy Turnbull and Judy Dalton, Barty held two set points in the first set tiebreaker at 6-4, netting a backhand before being wrong-footed by a Kenin crosscourt backhand drive.
She broke in the third game of the second set, controlling proceedings while cruising to 5-4 (40-15), only to fall foul of unforced error, including a rushed block forehand to lose serve.
It was the start of a hellish decline for the Australian, who lost 12 of the last 16 points of the match, tumbling from 5-3 up to deflating defeat.
With just 16 winners to Barty's 33, Kenin made fewer unforced errors - 25 to 36 - as she ruthlessly ended the Queenslander's nine-match winning streak.
Kenin will attempt to become the first US grand slam winner since Sloane Stephen's 2017 US Open triumph.
She will play either reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep or former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza in Saturday's final.