Kenin knocks out Wang 6-4, 6-3 to reach Wimbledon third round
Sofia Kenin, the twenty-four-year-old American reached a career-high rank of four in 2020 following her triumph at the Australian Open and later that year, reached the final at Roland Garros (l. Swiatek).
The 2021 season, however, was anything but prodigious. She suffered from appendicitis, removed her dad from her coaching team, and finished the year ranked #12. Her father rejoined the coaching team before the conclusion of the season.
The WTA, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, temporarily froze the rankings and eliminated them following the conclusion of the 2022 Australian Open. As a result, Kenin’s ranking precipitously plummeted outside the top 300 due primarily to dropping the 2000 points she had received by winning the 2020 Australian Open.
Currently ranked #128, the former world #4 with five career titles was obliged to qualify for the Championships. After winning three consecutive matches, she overpowered world #7 Coco Gauff in three in the opening round.
Kenin with her confidence booming, brought a 2-0 head-to-head lead versus her second-round opponent Xinyu Wang from China. Just twenty-one, Wang reached a career-high rank of #59 but is currently #73. At 11:00am local time on Court 4, they played for the third time. Wang won the toss and elected to receive.
Kenin missed 3/6 first serves but with two groundstroke winners, held to 30 while Wang missed 2/5 first serves yet held to 15 to level with a fantastic crosscourt forehand.
Kenin faced 0-30 but with heavy hitting and stellar defense, held to 30 for 2-1. Wang missed 5/8 first serves, faced break point, and dumped serve when Kenin ripped a backhand crosscourt. The American made 4/4 first serves but gave back the break following two unforced errors and two outstanding forehand winners from her opponent.
Wang struck another forehand winner and consolidated the break at love for 3-3. Kenin donated three unforced errors including a double fault and faced break point but with a wicked slice backhand, managed to hold for 4-3. Wang serving with new balls, held to 30 for 4-4 despite donating a double fault while Kenin unloaded a backhand crosscourt and held easily to 15 for 5-4. Wang serving to stay in the set gifted three consecutive errors, faced triple set point, and conceded it when Kenin pummeled the backhand return down the line.
Kenin served first in the second and held to 30 while Wang dropped serve following two consecutive backhand winners from the American. The former world #4 was laser-focused, routinely chanting “come on” after every winning combination, and held easily to 15 to consolidate the break while Wang held to 15 for 1-3.
While there were few extended rallies, both finished off points when the opportunity arose. Although Kenin donated her second double fault, she held to 15 for 4-1 with a terrific forehand down the line and a well-struck serve out wide.
Wang missed 9/10 first serves including two double faults, faced two deuce and two break points, and dumped serve when her opponent cracked the return. Kenin served for the match with new balls but succumbed to the pressure and gave back the break following a spectacular crosscourt forehand return winner. Wang consolidated the break for 3-5 but lost the following game and match as Kenin held at love to reach the third round at Wimbledon for the first time!
It was vintage Kenin; ferocious and relentless. While she won 59% of first serve points, she won a staggering 68% of second serve points. Although she hit 6 more errors than winners (17/11) she saved 2/4 break points while converting 4/7.
As she continues her climb back up the rankings, she will require even more resolve to further progress this fortnight. Next up, former world #3 Elina Svitolina. The twenty-eight-year-old Ukrainian is reascending the rankings following the birth of her first child.
Svitolina, with seventeen career titles, reached the semis at the All England Club in 2019. This past May in Strasbourg, she won her first title as a mom and reached the quarters at Roland Garros (l.Sabalenka). While both are supremely confident given their recent form, Svitolina leads the head-to-head 3-2. This will be their first meeting on grass with the round of sixteen on the line.