Sofia Kenin became the latest unlikely Grand Slam champion in women’s tennis when her relentless persistence proved too much for Garbine Muguruza in the Australian Open final.
Displaying shades of two other Florida-raised players with East European roots – Maria Sharapova and Monica Seles – she battled through a high quality set to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and three minutes.
Born in Moscow but having grown up in the US, there is no reason she cannot now buy the apartment she wants in Manhattan after earning £2.2million for her surprise triumph.
She won what was the first women’s final of the post-1968 era that did not feature a top 10 player.
‘My dream officially came true, if you have a dream go for it, it’s going to come true,’ said Kenin. ‘These past two weeks have been the best two weeks of my life. ‘
An emotional Muguruza added: ‘I think I’m going to keep it short because I’m going to get very emotional.
‘Congratulations Sofia, you played an incredible match, incredible tournament. You deserve the trophy. I think we’re going to see you play in more finals soon.’
Muguruza came in a slight favourite for a final whose unexpected line-up contributed to there being spare seats in the stands, the Rod Laver Arena being at least 500 short of a sellout.
The Spaniard, going for her third Major after a lean patch, should have won the first set more easily but missed three break points for 5-2 before closing it out after going ahead for 5-4.
She did that despite her serve regularly misfiring, and she paid the price in the second set when she was missing virtually six out of 10 first serves.
The unseeded Muguruza, often frustrated by her opponent’s retrieving skills and inability to assert her superior firepower, double faulted for the seventh time to drop serve crucially for 2-4 in the decider, and could not recover.
She double faulted again on match point, leaving the American to go to her father Alexander, stood up in the player’s box, to celebrate.
Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands were due to follow them on court for the mixed doubles final.