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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Lorenzo Sonego claims the title in Metz

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Lorenzo Sonego beat seventh seed Alexander Bublik 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 after 87 minutes in the final of the Moselle Open in Metz to win the third title of his career and the first in 2022 without dropping a set in the whole week after beating Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinal. Sonego won his first tournament on hard-court.

 

Sonego, who was playing the fifth final of his career, saved three break points at 2-2 to hold serve in the fifth game of a hard-fought first set. Bublik saved a set point on return at 4-5 down with a backhand passing shot. 

Sonego won four consecutive points from 3-3 in the tie-break with two mini-breaks to claim the opening set 7-3 after 57 minutes. 

Sonego broke serve in the third game at 15 to take a 2-1 lead, as Bublik made a volley error on the break point. The former Vienna finalist earned a double break at 30 in the fourth game to take a 4-1 lead with a passing shot. Sonego closed out the win with a hold at 15 on his first match point. 

Sonego has extended his lead in the head-to-head matches against Bublik to 4-0. 

“I improved my tennis every day, and I am really happy for this match and this tournament. I like the atmosphere here. It was unbelievable today, yesterday and this week. It’s really tough to play against Alexander, because he is an unbelievable player with an amazing serve, good talent, and it is always tough to play him”, said Sonego. 

Sonego has reached his first ATP Tour final since Eastbourne in June 2021.  With this title he has moved up to world number 44 in the ATP Ranking. 

Bublik had won his first ATP title on French indoor courts in Montpellier last February. “Big congratulations to Lorenzo. It’s always a pleasure to lose against you, as I told you at the net. Thanks to my team, thanks to everyone for supporting me and I was happy to be back in the finals in France”, said Bublik.

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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Team Europe leads 8-4 over Team World 8-4 heading into the final day at the Laver Cup

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Novak Djokovic cruised past Frances Tiafoe 6-1 6-3 after 72 minutes to earn Team Europe a 6-4 lead over Team World at the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London. 

 

Djokovic also won the doubles match with Matteo Berrettini to put Europe into a 8-4 lead before the final day on Sunday.

Djokovic was playing his first match since his 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last July, when he beat Nick Kyrgios. The Serbian player holds a 1-1 at the Laver Cup, after losing his only previous match at this tournament against Kevin Anderson in 2018. 

Djokovic did not drop a point on serve in the first set against Tiafoe and faced just one break point in the entire match. He held serve at love in the opening game. 

Tiafoe held in the second game with a service winner. Djokovic won his second service game to take a 2-1 lead before breaking serve in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. 

Djokovic hit another service winner in the fifth game to hold his third consecutive service game. Djokovic rallied from 0-30 down to earn his second break with a crosscourt forehand winner building up a 5-1 lead. 

Djokovic closed out the first set at love 6-1 in the seventh game with a backhand down the line after 22 minutes. 

Djokovic converted a break point in the opening game of the second set with a backhand winner. Tiafoe earned a break point with a backhand down the line winner in the second game. Djokovic saved it to build up a 6-1 2-0 lead. Tiafoe held serve in the third game with a winner at the net. Djokovic held serve with an ace down the T line at love In the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. 

Tiafoe fended off a break point in the fifth game with a backhand crosscourt winner and held another chance with a lucky net cord winner. Djokovic hit an ace to hold serve for 4-3. Tiafoe netted a backhand to face two match points, as he was serving to stay in the match in the ninth game. Djokovic converted his first match point to earn his 24th  win this season. 

“I have not played for two months and I am really glad to have continued the run, It was a pretty decent match from my side”, said Djokovic.

Earlier today Matteo Berrettini edged Felix Auger Aliassime 7-6 (13-11) 4-6 10-7 in a hard-fought match to put Team Europe ahead 4-2. Berrettini sealed a very long tie-break on his sixth set point in the first set 13-11 in the first set after more than 20 minutes. Auger Aliassime needed just one break in the thirdto win the second set 6-4. Berrettini earned a 7-2 lead with two mini-breaks in the Super tie-break. Auger Aliassime pulled one mini-break back for 5-8, but Berrettini sealed the win 10-7 on his first match point after 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Berrettini has extended his lead in his head-to-head matches against Auger Aliassime to 4-1. He beat his 22-year-old Canadian rival in last year’s edition of the Laver Cup. 

“It’s always a great fight against Felix. We played for 2 hours and 15 minutes. He is a hell of a player. I had to play my best tennis in the Match tie-break to win. I am really happy because I didn’t win just for me but for the team. Having the chance to live what we lived yesterday is something that’s going that’s going to be stuck in my heart and my brain forever. I am not lying when I say that I am here because of Federer. He was the one that I was looking up to. He was the one that I was supporting, cheering for him”, said Berrettini. 

Taylor Fritz then edged past Cameron Norrie 6-1 4-6 10-8 to draw the tie level to 4-4 before Djokovic cruised past Tiafoe to give Europe a 6-4 lead. The 21-time Grand Slam champion teamed up with Berrettini to beat Jack Sock and Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 22 minutes.

Team Europe leads 8-4 heading into the final day. Europe will win a fifth cnnsecutive title with two more victories.

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