Sofia Kenin Talks Mental Struggles Ahead Of Australian Open Defence - UBITENNIS
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Sofia Kenin Talks Mental Struggles Ahead Of Australian Open Defence

The world No.4 opens up about the struggles she experienced during 2020.

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A year ago Sofia Kenin started her trajectory to become the next big thing in women’s tennis after lifting the Australian Open title at the age of 21.

 

At the Melbourne major she scored wins over the likes of Ons Jabeur, Ash Barty and Garbine Muguruza to become the youngest American player to win a major title since Serena Williams back in 2002. Following the milestone, Kenin suffered a series of disappointing losses before winning her next title in Lyon during March. However, what she didn’t know at the time was that she would not be able to play again for another five months.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world of tennis to a standstill with various tournaments either cancelled or suspended. Sudden Kenin’s climb in sport stopped and there was nothing she could do about it apart from wait. It was an unfortunate situation for the sport to be in and Kenin herself admits it had a big impact on her mental health too.

Last year was supposed to be the best year after winning a slam and then COVID happened,” Kenin told reporters at a Motorola virtual breakfast on Thursday.
“It took a big toll on me and obviously I was quite disappointed.
“It’s kind of hard to get motivated when constantly every tournament is being cancelled.
“You see that for four or five months there are no tournaments which makes it really tough.”

During that period the world No.4 was still able to train at a private academy but her motivation for the sport suffered a blow. Her only taste of competitive tennis during the break was the World TeamTennis event where she played for the Philadelphia Freedoms.

“It was great but at the beginning our practices weren’t the best – no motivation,” she said.
“It was quite depressing to be honest.
“But my dad knew why I was feeling like this so he obviously helped me.”

Despite her problems, Kenin managed to enjoy success once again with the Tour resumed by reaching the final of the French Open in October, as well as the fourth round of the US Open. Her performance in 2020 was officially recognized by the WTA who named her Player of the Year in their annual awards.

Kenin is yet to defend a title of any kind in her professional career but will be hoping to end that run at the Australian Open. The task of doing so will be far from simple with only two players having done that within the past 15 years – Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Nevertheless, she is relishing the challenge.

“Definitely a little bit of pressure, for sure. But I’m going to do my best and I’m really looking forward to the challenge as defending champion,” she told the TODAY show.
“It comes with pros and cons but I’m really looking forward to it.
“I love being at this level and competing with the best players in the world.
“I worked really hard to get here and it’s an honour. It’s going to be a great challenge, everyone is super excited to be back here and with the fans, 50 per cent of the fans, I feel it’s going to be somewhat normal.
“I cannot wait to see the fans and the energy. All of us are really excited.”

Fortunately for the American she was not one of the 72 players who had to go into strict quarantine after being declared a close contact of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. Meaning she has been allowed to train on court during the past two weeks.

Kenin started this season in Abu Dhabi where she reached the quarter-finals before losing in three sets to Maria Sakkari. She will return to action next week at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic.

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Gael Monfils advances to Australian Open fourth round without dropping a set

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Gael Monfils has reached the second week at the Australian Open with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-3 win over Cristian Garin. 

 

Garin saved an early break point and took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break with an early mini-break in the opening set, but Monfils came back by winning five consecutive points to claim the tie-break 7-4. 

Monfils earned two early breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. Garin pulled one break back at love in the fifth game for 1-4, but Monfils broke for the third time to close out the second set 6-1. 

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the third set. Monfils broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, when Garin made three unforced errors. The Frenchman saved a break point in a 18-point game in the sixth game and held serve with his 17th ace and broke serve to close out the match with a forehand volley winner. 

The Frenchman has not dropped a set so far this week and recorded five sets at 6-1 or better this week. Earlier this year he won the Adelaide International 1 title.

“It was a tough match, the conditions were different today. It was hot. It was quicker. I felt that I needed to adapt the game plan a little bit. He was playing well. He was playing well. I had to battle  and was very lucky and fortunate to win this breaker in the first set, and I just think I was solid enough to win in straight sets”, said Monfils. 

Monfils will be aiming to reach his 10th Grand Slam quarter final against Miomir Kecmanovic, who beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 7-5. 

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the fourth round at the Australian Open for the third time in his career

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the second week in Melbourne after a four-set win over Sebastian Korda

 

Pablo Carreno Busta beat Sebastian Korda 6-4 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 in their first head-to-head match after 3 hours and 27 minutes to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne for the third time in his career after achieving this feat in 2018 and 2019. 

Carreno Busta will take on Matteo Berrettini, who beat reigning Next Gen ATP champion Carlos Alcaraz 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 2-6 7-6 (10-5). 

Carreno Busta earned his first break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Korda broke straight back on his third break point in the ninth game. Carreno Busta broke again on his eighth set point to seal the first set 6-4. 

The Spanish player hit 18 winners to just 8 unforced errors and got the crucial break in the 12th game to close out the second set 7-5. 

Korda came back from 3-5 down to win a tight tie-break 8-6 in the third set. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the fourth set. Carreno Busta earned two breaks in the fifth and eighth games to close out the fourth set when Korda hit a forehand wide. 

Carreno Busta reached the US Open semifinals twice in 2017 and 2020 and won two ATP Tour titles in Hamburg and Marbella in 2021. 

Korda was aiming to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the third time after achieving this feat at Roland Garros in 2020 and Wimbledon in 2021. 

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Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.

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Denis Shapovalov - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.

 

The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.

” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.

Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.

However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.

The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.

The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.

The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.

Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.

After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.

” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.

Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

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