Sofia Kenin holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup aloft after defeating Garbine Muguruza in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne on Saturday. AP
Despite making her debut in a Major final Sofia Kenin, 21, showed all her trademark aggression as she fought back from a set down to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in 2hrs 3mins against the shellshocked Spaniard.
Sofia is the youngest Australian Open champion since Maria Sharapova — her idol — won aged 20 in 2008.
The 14th seed, who will now jump as high as seventh in the world and usurp Serena Williams as America's number one, was in tears at the end and headed straight for her father Alexander, who is her coach.
It was the final twist in a tournament of upsets, after Williams went out in the third round and Sofia upset Australia's world number one Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals.
"My dream officially came true, I can't describe this feeling," said Moscow-born Sofia Kenin. "It's amazing, dreams come true. If you have dreams, go for it, it's going to come true."
Spain's Muguruza, 26, was unseeded for the first time at a Slam since 2014 having suffered a marked loss of form in the last 18 months.
She was resurgent in Melbourne over the past fortnight, but after grabbing the first-set lead, her serve failed her spectacularly.
She totted up eight double-faults in all, three of them in the final game — including one on the second championship point, handing the title to her younger opponent.
Sofia Kenin fights back
Muguruza drew first blood at Rod Laver Arena, where the roof was closed for rain in Melbourne, getting the first break of serve.
Moscow-born Sofia Kenin, who ended the fairytale run of 15-year-old Coco Gauff on her way to the final, bounced her American stars-and-stripes racquet on the hardcourt in irritation.
The 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon winner Muguruza took the first set in 52 minutes when the young American planted her forehand out.
But the aggressive Sofia upped the ante in the second set, breaking her more experienced opponent in the fourth game and easily holding to sprint into a 4-1 lead.
Sofia, who won their only previous encounter in three sets, grabbed the second set in an emphatic 32 minutes. A rattled Muguruza was seen briefly by a physio for what appeared to be a lower-back problem.
Into the deciding set and the gutsy Kenin saved three game points in a pivotal fifth game, tossing the ball back over her head by way of celebration.
Kenin, who was overshadowed in the build-up to Melbourne by the likes of Williams, Osaka and Barty, adds by far the biggest title of her fast-burgeoning career to the three WTA crowns she won last year.
"The past two weeks have been the best of my life," she told Rod Laver Arena, as her father — who left the Soviet Union in 1987 to give the family a better life — filmed her victory speech on his phone.
"I love you guys from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much," she told the crowd.
At 21 years and 80 days, Sofia is 22 days younger than Japan's Naomi Osaka when she won the title last year.
"I called her right after the match just to tell her that everything's fine, I won, she can just relax now," a beaming Sofia Kenin told reporters, glass of champagne in hand, referring to mother Lena.
"She's been really stressed at home, very superstitious.
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