Australian Open: Who is Sofia Kenin, the young woman who defeated Garbiñe Muguruza?



The tournament champion does not respond to the vigorous model prevailing in the circuit, but knows how to take advantage of her good reading of the game and her mental strength.

Sofia Kenin poses with the champion cup.

The casting of new Grand Slam champions throw the name of Sofia Kenin, a quasianonymous tennis player for the general public before the start of the Australian Open. With 21 years and 81 days, the Russian-born American becomes the youngest winner of the tournament since Maria Sharapova took it in 2008 and joins the parade started with the triumph of Angelique Kerber in this same tournament in 2016. There the succession of faces was opened, mostly equipped with a projection still to be calibrated in a circuit without clear domination.

«I think that mental strength has been an important part. I have worked on it over the years. I am receiving the reward, ”said the earliest American tennis player to win a major since 2002, when Serena Williams did it. Daughter of Alexander and Lena, a Russian couple who decided to move from Moscow to Florida, after having tried their luck in New York, began playing tennis at age five, stimulated by their parent. Soon he deserved the attention of Rick Macci, mentor, among others, of Andy Roddick, Jennifer Capriati, the Williams and Sharapova sisters.

Trained now by his father, very involved in the stands throughout the game, Kenin called his mother as soon as the game ended. «She is very superstitious. He can't see me play. 'I'm coming home, you're going to give me the biggest hug of your life,' I said.

With only three second-order titles until Saturday, Kenin had never managed to overcome the fourth round of a Grand Slam. The spotlights were on other players who had already made the jump, with a supposedly more homologated tennis in the elite. We are facing a tennis player who does not respond to the prevailing model. With 1.70, it lacks a decisive service and also does not stand out for its strength. It shows, of course, a diaphanous reading of the parties and a fireproof spirit.

Serena Williams reference

«I have seen Serena. I have followed her in the Slams she has been winning. It is a special feeling to be ahead of her in the ranking, ”said the champion, who jump to number seven on the ladder and passes in front of his countryman. There is something that is not entirely true in Kenin's confession: when Serena won the first of her 23 in New York majors, she was just over two months old.

He could see her cheer up in the windy moments and show her irritation at any minimal error, but always without losing emotional stability. His first words in front of the public that filled the Rod Laver Arena, covered this Saturday due to the rain, were a message of easy consumption. «I can say that my dreams have officially come true. If you have a dream, chase it, because it can come true».

Kenin had defeated Muguruza last year in Beijing, which was the last game of a disappointing season for the Spanish. Although it was a first round match and the best of three sets, 6-0, 2-6 and 6-2, in a Premier Mandatory, and the Spanish had little to do with the player who is again, It did give the impression that Kenin took note of how he should play.

He sought to break the pace of the exchanges with some left-overs, a blow that he used to handle with precision, but he also assumed other risks when he acquired greater confidence, particularly with his reverse.

It remains to be seen what role it will play in the revolutionized women's circuit. In the open litigation for the big titles, it may take time to join Coco gauff, victim of Kenin's glare on this occasion. Garbiñe has returned, Andreescu, absent from injury in Melbourne, will be ready in Roland Garros, and both Osaka, 22 years, Barty, 23, or more tanned women, in the case of Halep and Kerber, have weapons to look for their opportunity. There is something that seems clear: Serena Williams, 38, is going to have it increasingly difficult in the struggle undertaken to match the 24 individual Grand Slam titles signed by Margaret Court Smith.

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