To be the player of the year in a year of mass disruption and remain consistent despite forced breaks is mightily impressive. Consistency on the tour moving tournament to tournament and country to country is difficult to come by but when you don’t when your next tournament is an the usual structure pulled apart to be consistent through deserves a lot of credit.
Consistency throughout is great and also in what has been a difficult year the ability to bounce back even better and is something Sofia Kenin has shown throughout the year even in triumph.
I didn’t have Sofia Kenin down to do what she did this year but it was magnificent to watch her play her fearless tennis with a no-nonsense attitude and a mentality unmatched.
Five points of Melbourne
I go back to the beginning of the year before the Covid-19 pandemic and Kenin was centre stage against Muguruza in the ladies final with over 15,000 watching court-side on and millions worldwide.
The 21 year old was a set down and after fighting back found herself in trouble at 2-2 in the third but down 0-40 and then these five points happened…
As commentated on, “it was nothing short of exceptional” to hold serve like that from 0-40 is unheard of. The pressure moment of her career and she stood up to the challenge.
Kenin took that 3-2 lead and went onto break twice to win her maiden Grand Slam title.
Lyon to New York
After winning in Melbourne the American struggled with straight sets defeats in Dubai and Qatar but in Lyon won her second title of the year before the tour came to a halt.
6 months later the tour resumed in New York hosting a relocated Cincinnati and the US Open at it’s usual home of Flushing Meadows. A third first round defeat in four events followed leaving Kenin searching for consistency.
With little preparation a second major of the year led to Kenin finding her groove early on in the tournament but after three impressive straight sets wins the American fell in two to Elise Mertens.
A trip to Rome to forget
After getting back into competitive tennis alongside Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati with the two playing a couple of doubles matches together it wasn’t a match to remember in Rome.
Not on the same team but against each other in singles the Belarusian continued her phenomenal form.
One of the highlights of the year was the resurgence of Vika when the tour resumed in August and she took apart Sofia Kenin in Rome after the US Open.
The American was brushed aside with Vika winning 6-0 6-0 against the Australian Open champion who left Rome with a lot to think about.
Bouncing back in Paris
No one likes to lose a set 0-6 let alone lose a match without winning a game is tough to bounce back from. It has however happened to the best. Sharapova lost to Davenport in 2005, Graf defeated Austin and Evert defeated Martina by this scoreline.
Without little practice on clay and a year hit by Covid-19 opportunities were few and far between but in Paris she came back as a woman on a mission.
That intensity was there from Sofia in Paris, the way she bounced back and performed with that belief and arrogance was exceptional to watch.
On her way to the semi-final we saw that fighting spirit needing to go to three sets in four of her opening five matches at Roland Garros.
It was more straight forward against the experienced Petra Kvitova but against Iga Swiatek in the final it was only going to go the way of Swiatek who was phenomenal throughout!
In a tough year it was Kenin who had a magnificent season. The triumph in Melbourne, those five points of survival in the fifth game, the break from tennis, disappointment in New York, humiliation in Rome and then the reaction in Paris was exceptional and deserves applauding a magnificent year.