Sofia Kenin Embracing The Calm Before The Storm In Melbourne - UBITENNIS
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Sofia Kenin Embracing The Calm Before The Storm In Melbourne

The American world No.4 says she is not putting too much pressure on herself ahead of the Australian Open.

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If Sofia Kenin was looking for a match which tested her both mentally and physically, she had her prayers answered on Wednesday at the Yarra Valley Classic.

 

The world No.4 was pushed to her limits by compatriot Jessica Pegula who she outlasted 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. Although the score doesn’t tell the full story with Kenin at one stage trailing by a set and 1-4 before fighting back to secure the win. During what was a lacklustre performance, she struggled behind her second serve in which she only won 45% of points played. Overall, Kenin did hit 14 more winners than Pegula but she also committed 10 more unforced errors.

“I just kept fighting,and then I found my groove, I was happy the way I was able to change things in the second. First I did some things wrong, then I made the adjustment in the second,” said Kenin.
“I was missing so many first serves. I was getting quite annoyed. Then I started making them. I started going after my second serves, which was good. Then it kind of let me down a little bit at 5-2 (in the third set). A win is a win, so I’ll take it,” she added.

22-year-old Kenin is hoping for a deep run this week in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open where she is the defending champion. She kicked-off her season last month in the Middle East where she reached the quarter-finals of the Abu Dhabi Open before losing to Maria Sakkari. Although the one difference is Melbourne is being held in front of a crowd with the Australian Open set to welcome up to 30,000 people each day.

“I can’t wait for next week, to play in front of a bigger crowd. Hopefully the Aussie fans will be on my side.”

2020 was a breakout year for the Russian-born player whose family moved to America a couple months after she was born. Besides her Melbourne triumph, she also won the Lyon Open and reached the final of the French Open. Overall, she won 24 out of 33 matches played last year and was named the WTA’s Player of the Year in December.

However, trying to carry that momentum into a new season is never easy with Kenin admitting that she will be facing a lot of pressure during her title defence at the Australian Open. The last time a female player won the same Grand Slam two years in a row was Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016.

“I’m happy that I feel like this tournament, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I’m trying to get as many matches as I possibly can, try to feel my game. Then come Australian Open, it’s going to be different: more pressure on myself and everything,” said Kenin.
“I guess this week is a little bit of a relaxation week for me mentally because I’m not really crazy right now. I’m kind of trying to stay as calm as possible. Coming up, it will be really, really hectic.”

Next up for Kenin will be a clash with Garbine Muguruza at the Yarra Valley event. The player who she beat to win the Australian Open title 12 months ago.

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Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months

The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.

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Borna Coric - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.

 

The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.

It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”

Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.

“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.

Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.

In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.

Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.

Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.

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Sorana Cirstea Makes Winning Start To French Open After Seeking Help From Djokovic’s Coach

The Grand Slam winning mentor was seen in the crowd watching Cirstea play her first round match in Paris.

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Image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros

Heading into her 14th French Open main draw Sorona Cristea decided to take a shot and ask for advice from one former Grand Slam champion.

 

The 32-year-old Romanian has endured a mixed results on the clay this year with a run to the semifinals of the Istanbul Open followed by three straight first round losses on the Tour. It has been a frustrating past few weeks for the Tour veteran who is currently ranked 27th in the world. Just six spots below her career-high.

Seeking further guidance for her French Open bid, Cirstea approached Goran Ivanisevic for help. The former Wimbledon champion who now works as coach of the men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic. To her delight, he agreed to give her some pointers.

He came to one of my practices two days ago. Basically, I just asked for his help and I was lucky enough to get an hour of his time,” Cirstea told reporters.
“I talked with him a little bit about what’s going through my head and just tennis. It was a very, very pleasant hour.”

Ivanisevic was seen courtside watching Cirstea play her first round match at Roland Garros on Sunday morning. The 26th seed defeated Germany’s Tatjana Maria 6-3, 6-3, in just over an hour. Hitting a total of 34 winners against 26 unforced errors.

“I was very surprised to see him because I know he’s very busy with Novak,” she continued. “He was very, very kind to be there and I was happy to see him there.’
“He’s just been giving me a few tips and tricks from a Grand Slam champion, and as a coach of No. 1, and someone that has so much experience. I’m very grateful and very lucky to have the chance to spend that hour on court with him.”

This year’s French Open is the 53rd Grand Slam Cirstea has played in. She has reached six WTA finals, winning the 2008 Tashkent Open and 2021 Istanbul Open. Against top 10 players she has recorded a total of 16 wins to date.

Reflecting on her development as a player, the Romanian believes a change in perspective has enabled her to enjoy more success on the Tour in recent years. Cristea has been continuously ranked in the world’s top 100 since September 2019.

“When I was younger, I was taking the losses a bit much, they were hurting a bit too much, where now I am much more relaxed, much more at peace,” she explains.
“You cannot change what happened last week, so why bother? Try to learn and then just go forward with the positive mindset.”

Cirstea will play Sloane Stephens in the second round of Roland Garros. Stephens, who is unseeded in the draw, battled back from a set down to defeat Germany’s Jule Niemeier 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

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Casper Ruud reaches his second consecutive final in Geneva

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Reigning Geneva Open champion Casper Ruud battled past Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 to reach his second consecutive final at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

 

Ruud, who beat Denis Shapovalov in the Geneva Open final, has extended his head-to-head record against Opelka to 4-0. 

Ruud has not dropped a set this week. The Norwegian becomes the first player to advance to multiple finals at the Geneva Open since local favourite Stan Wawrinka won this tournament in 2016 and 2017. 

Opelka won just 67 % of his first serve points and never earned a break point. Ruud earned two mini-breaks in the tie-break of the first set and converted his only break point at 5-5 in the 11th game and sealed the win with back to back aces. Ruud improved his record to 10-5 on this year’s European clay season. The Norwegian won the Buenos Aires title and reached the semifinal in Rome and the final in Miami. 

Ruud hit just four aces to just 12 for Opelka. 

“I am looking forward to the final tomorrow. It was a tough match today against Opelka like it always is. The serve he has is incredibly  difficult to return. I was able to take the small chances I had and I feel like I served well and was solid with not too many mistakes. That is the key in matches like this”, said Ruud. 

Ruud set up a final against Joao Sousa, who cruised past Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2 with two breaks in each set to reach his 12th ATP Tour final. Sousa has reached the final of the Geneva Open for the second time in his career after his run to the title match in 2015. Sousa won 73% of his service points and converted four of his ten break points.

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