Is Sofia Kenin Really Back? - UBITENNIS
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Is Sofia Kenin Really Back?



Sofia Kenin - Adelaide 2022 (foto Twitter @AdelaideTennis)

Sofia Kenin is a true veteran of professional tennis.


She’s just 24 years old, but she has been playing the pros for a decade.

Kenin was so great in 2020 when you won the Australian Open after celebrating her 21st birthday three months earlier. Then she moved up to No. 4 in the world and was runner-up in the French Open.

The world must have looked simple back then to the Moscow native, who came to America as a baby.


Then the injuries hit, and 2021 and 2022 weren’t as much fun.

But Kenin is back in Charleston for the Charleston Open ranked No. 142 in the world. She struggled at times Monday night before the rains pushed the finish back to Tuesday, and she prevailed with a 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

Kenin had played late into the night on Monday and was lucky to be winning when the match was finally called. She could sleep easy.

“I needed to get some sleep if I wanted to win,” she said during her Tennis Channel interview Tuesday after winning her first-round match in Charleston.


The home-schooled young woman was as articulate as ever.

After winning the 2020 Australian Open, Kenin started her acceptance speech by saying, “Okay, this is my first speech, but I’m going to try my best.”

Her speech was so well articulated that day that tennis hall of famer Todd Woodbridge, who was serving as master of ceremonies for the Australian Open’s awards presentation, said, “I think we’ll all agree it was a pretty special first Grand Slam speech.”


Kenin looked like a different player, her old self, when the match resumed Tuesday as she quickly expanded a 3-0 lead from the previous night to 5-0. Her strong, precisely placed cross-court backhands became more than Sasnovich could handle.

The match ended quickly.

Six years earlier out on the Althea Gibson Club Court, she was wrapping up things by autographing everything her young fans could come up with. She had qualified for the main draw of what was then named Volvo Car Open.


From a nearby seat in the stands, her coach/dad Alex watched every move that day in 2017, just as he did Monday and Tuesday in Credit One Stadium on Daniel Island.  Veteran coach Michael Joyce also is helping out her dad these days.

But in 2017, Kenin was on her way from “nowhere to superstar” as the 210th-ranked player in the world.

It happened in 2020 when she won the Australian Open and then was runner-up in the French Open. She quickly became the highest ranked American in professional tennis and the youngest American to win a Grand Slam since Serena Williams in the 2002 U.S. Open.


The world seemed to belong to the then 21-year-old. She was young and a great talent apparently capable of winning many Grand Slam tournaments.

Then the injury season hit her in 2021. A serious ankle injury sidelined her for five months in 2022. She missed the Olympics. She also came down with Covid.

Everything seemed to go wrong.

It had been a bumpy ride for a player who started playing the ITF Circuit in 2013 in Gainesville, Fla., as a 14-year-old. The young woman from Pembroke Pines, Fla., may finally be back on her game with a healthy body.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at 

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Carlos Alcaraz beats Yannick Hanfmann on his debut at the China Open



This year’s Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz beat Yannick Hanfmann 6-4 6-3 in 1 hour and 37 minutes on his debut at the China Open in Beijing three weeks after reaching the semifinal at the US Open. 


Alcaraz has improved his win-loss record to 59-7, leading the ATP Tour. The Spanish player leads the ATP Tour with 8 titles and 5 finals. 

Hanfmann saved eight of the eleven break points and broke twice in the first set. 

Alcaraz earned an early break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead, but Hanfmann broke straight back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Alcaraz converted his fourth break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Hanfmann pulled back on serve in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Alcaraz earned his third break with a forehand at 4-4 to seal the first set. 

Alcaraz broke twice in the third and ninth games to close out the second set 6-3. The two-time Grand Slam champion did not face a break point in the second set. 

Alcaraz converted five of the sixteen break points he faced. 

Alcaraz set up a second round match against Lorenzo Musetti, who beat Karen Khachanov 6-3 1-6 6-2. Khachanov won at the Zhuhai Open last week beating Yoshihito Nishioka  in the final. 

“Hopefully I have a lot of years to come here to China. Creating my chapter here in China would be great for me. To finally be able to come here to China and show my tennis in front of the Chinese people is something that I wanted a long time ago and I am really happy to do it, hopefully the first of many here”, said Alcaraz. 

Musetti converted his second break point in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Khachanov broke back in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. Musetti broke for the second time in the eighth game to seal the first set 6-3. 

Khachanov broke twice in the second and sixth games to close out the second set 6-1. 

Musetti broke Khachanov twice in the sixth and eighth games to seal the third set 6-2. 

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Jessica Pegula and Maria Sakkari advance to the semifinal in Tokyo



Number 2 seed Jessica Pegula cruised past Daria Kasatkina 6-1 6-0 in just 59 minutes at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo to reach her seventh semifinal of the 2023 season.


Kasatkina earned an early break in the opening game of the match, but Pegula reeled off 12 consecutive games. The US player hit 25 winners and broke six times. She saved three break points as she served out the first set. Kasatkina was not able to convert eight game points across her first two service games. 

Pegula has scored her second win in as many matches against Kasatkina after beating her Russian opponent 7-5 6-3 in the first round in Rome 2021. 

Pegula has improved to 10-9 against top 20 rivals in 2023. 

Pegula set up a semifinal match against Maria Sakkari, who beat Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-2 in the quarter final. Sakkari claimed her second win in a week over her French rival equalling her career-best streak of seven consecutive match wins. Last week Sakkari beat Garcia 6-3 6-0 in the semifinal of the Guadalajara Open.  

Sakkari hit 15 winners to eight unforced errors and saved all six break points. 

The US player will meet her Greek rival for the ninth time in her career and for the third time this season. Sakkari leads 5-3 in her head-to-head matches against Pegula. They are 1-1 in their 2023 clashes. Pegula took the win 6-2 4-6 6-1 in the semifinal in Doha, but Sakkari turned the tables by winning the Washington semifinal 6-3 4-6 6-2. 

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Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette



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China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player. 


The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.

“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying. 

Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.

20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina. 

Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.

“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”

It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing. 

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