Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion, reached her first Melbourne final with a tough 7-6 (10/8), 7-5 victory at a steamy Rod Laver Arena
Unseeded Garbine Muguruza fought back from behind in both sets to defeat racquet-smashing fourth seed Simona Halep Thursday and set up an Australian Open final with surprise-package Sofia Kenin.
The Spaniard, a two-time Grand Slam champion, reached her first Melbourne final with a tough 7-6 (10/8), 7-5 victory at a steamy Rod Laver Arena.
The 26-year-old, who suffered a calamitous drop in form last season, is the first unseeded player to reach the women's final since Belgium's Justine Henin in 2010.
Halep and Muguruza, who have both won the French Open and Wimbledon, were too close to split in a nervy first set.
In sweltering heat, with play on the outside courts suspended earlier as temperatures hit 38 Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit), they grappled all the way to the tie-breaker.
Clutch Kenin@SofiaKenin collects a 7-6(6) 7-5 win over world No. 1 Barty to reach her first Grand Slam final and become the youngest Melbourne finalist since 2008.#AO2020 | #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/vPxrtFzgZU— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2020
Muguruza, unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since 2014, squandered two set points in the breaker while saving two more for Halep, and then clinched it with a stop volley that Halep couldn't get back over the net.
It was the first set that Halep - also a former No 1 - had dropped all week and she reacted by mangling her racquet and slumped in her chair, shaking her head.
The 28-year-old recovered her poise and broke Muguruza for a 3-2 lead in the second set, before Muguruza broke back and then held to make it 6-5.
Halep, so serene in Melbourne up until now, cracked as she served to stay in the tournament, saving the first match point but then netting a backhand as Muguruza surged forward on the second.
Kenin, the feisty American 14th seed, earlier stunned world No 1 and home hope Ashleigh Barty 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam final.
Moscow-born Kenin, 21, the last American left in Melbourne, was the party pooper once more.
She had already brought the fairytale run of 15-year-old Coco Gauff to an end in the fourth round with the aggressive style of play that has become her trademark over the past fortnight.
Kenin looked shell-shocked in the immediate aftermath of her surprise defeat of home hope Barty.
Kenin, who had a breakthrough 2019, winning her first three WTA titles, was contesting her first Grand Slam semi-final, and it was Barty's first time in the last four in Melbourne.
But if the locals hoped Kenin would be cowed by the occasion and her top-ranked opponent, the French Open champion, they were to be mistaken.