Sofia Kenin’s American Dream Down Under

published: Feb, 03, 2020

by: Charles Blouin-Gascon

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps Sofia Kenin’s triumph in Australia.

Welcome to a brand new age in women’s tennis. Okay not quite, or at the very least it’s entirely to early to assume so right now.

But welcome to something new, yes. Here’s what we know: we wake up this morning with a new first-time major winner, with 21-year-old Sofia Kenin capturing the title in Melbourne with a 4-6, 6-2 and 6-2 win in the final against the experienced Garbine Muguruza.

In the process, the American became the youngest of her country since none other than Serena Williams in 2002 to capture a Grand Slam title. “My dream has officially come true,” Kenin said during the trophy ceremony. “This is such an honour. I’m so proud of myself, my dad, my team, everyone that has been around me. We’ve all worked hard. We’ve been through tough times. We did it. We fought. I’m just on cloud nine.”

Though the above quote refers to tough times, namely leaving Russia where Kenin was born and the likes, these actually haven’t come recently. Of the match, Kenin said that, “I knew I had to establish myself to get where I am. All the confidence has come with all the matches that I’ve had, the success I’ve had in 2019.”

Here’s the part where we interject to pat ourselves on the back. In this space a week ago as we looked ahead at the remaining seven days of the Grand Slam event, we mentioned about Kenin’s coming week that the next grand American star [was] here (maybe). We’re not typically good at and right with these predictions so we’ll gladly gloat—just a tiny bit—about things when we are.

This Australian Open triumph, in a way, is the next logical step in the youngster’s career. After first announcing her arrival at the end of last season a mere few months ago by becoming the 2019 WTA Most Improved Player of the Year, the native of Moscow navigated a fairly tricky draw that broke just so and made the leap to superstardom here in Australia.

Perhaps even more impressive in the win itself is the fact that Kenin actually won things by playing and sticking to her way. The American’s style is an aggressive one, one predicated on strong baseline play, a strong done-the-line backhand and a lethal inside-out forehand, and throughout the week she was great at walking the line between reckless and aggressive.

It’s what allowed her to take matters in her own hands in the final set to grab the crown. Down 0-40 at 2-2 in the third set, Kenin played perhaps her five best points of the match—she would call these the five best shots of [her] life—and held serve before closing things in style against a two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1.

What will it mean moving forward for the 21-year-old? Now that she has the world of women’s tennis in her palm of her hand, how will she respond? Can we expect a first major triumph to propel Kenin the same way it did in years past for Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka in years past?

These are all questions for the weeks and months ahead. Fr today let’s sit back and accept that women’s tennis has a new budding superstar.

In a sport where men’s tennis simply crowns the same two or three guys over and over again, women’s tennis seemingly can’t stop bringing to the forefront youngster after youngster.

Not that we mind.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Charles Blouin-Gascon

I'm the mastermind (I use this word very generously) of the 'Tennis Elbow' column, which looks at the previous week in the world of tennis. I try to bring humor to my coverage, because life's much better when you're smiling. I can also hit a mean backhand down the line.

instagram linkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *