French Open: Sofia Kenin eyes 2nd Grand Slam of yr, Iga Swiatek 1st of profession

Picture Supply : GETTY IMAGES

File pictures of Iga Swiatek (left) and Sofia Kenin.

Slightly greater than 4 years in the past in Paris, Iga Swiatek beat Sofia Kenin 6-Four, 7-5 within the third spherical of the French Open junior occasion.

“I keep in mind I misplaced. I don’t keep in mind how I performed,” Kenin mentioned when requested about the one encounter between the 2. “However positively I can say I used to be not as snug on clay as I’m now, as I began to really feel final yr. … After all, we’re each totally different gamers now.”

Actually are.

And the stakes of their second matchup at Roland Garros are significantly totally different from that 2016 assembly, too: Kenin, a 21-year-old from Florida, and Swiatek, a 19-year-old from Poland, will face one another Saturday within the French Open ladies’s ultimate.

Swiatek (pronounced shvee-ON’-tek) is No. 54, making her the lowest-ranked girl to get this far on the match for the reason that WTA pc rankings started in 1975. She seeks her first Grand Slam title; in six earlier appearances, her greatest displaying was the fourth spherical.

“I imply, I’ve to determine what she does. She’s had an awesome two weeks right here. She’s had some nice outcomes, taking part in some actually good tennis,” mentioned Kenin, who eradicated two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova within the semifinals. “I do know that I’m additionally taking part in properly.”

Kenin, who’s seeded No. Four, is bidding for her second massive trophy of the season, after triumphing on the Australian Open in February, a part of a 16-1 mark on the majors in 2020.

Kenin wanted to get by way of three units to win 4 of her half-dozen matches in Paris, a sign of some occasional lapses in type, maybe, but in addition of her boundless resilience and grit.

“Undoubtedly feisty,” is the way in which she put it.

Swiatek’s progress by way of the surprise-filled draw over the previous two weeks has been as spectacular as will be.

If the nippiness and rain of the autumnal setting — the French Open was postponed from Could-June to September-October due to the coronavirus pandemic — or the shortage of loud crowds — only one,000 followers are allowed on the grounds every day, additionally on account of COVID-19 considerations — or the dearth of match play — the ladies’s tour returned from a five-month hiatus in August — bothered others, these elements had been irrelevant to Swiatek.

Not solely hasn’t she dropped a set to date — no girl has received the title in Paris with out ceding a minimum of one since Justine Henin again in 2007 — however Swiatek allowed her six opponents to mix for simply 23 video games in 12 units.

The lopsided outcomes included 6-1, 6-2 victories over each 2018 champion Simona Halep and 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, and a 6-Three, 6-2 win over 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard.

“There’s a purpose why I used to be so environment friendly. Actually, I’m staying super-focused,” mentioned Swiatek, who travels with a sports activities psychologist. “I’m, like, not letting my opponents to play their greatest tennis. So I hope I’m going to try this on Saturday.”

She is younger sufficient, keep in mind, that she just lately completed highschool.

Swiatek says she wants to determine whether or not to proceed to pursue her schooling or follow skilled tennis.

“Properly, proper now it’s going to be exhausting to decide to return to finding out, as a result of I really feel like actually I can obtain massive issues. I simply wish to concentrate on that,” Swiatek mentioned. “However actually, I’m solely 19, so loads can change throughout a number of years. … Possibly I’m going to be, like, hungry for data.”


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