Can Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin deny dazzling Iga Swiatek a maiden Grand Slam title and claim the French Open…
Can Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin deny dazzling Iga Swiatek a maiden Grand Slam title and claim the French Open for herself?
Sofia Kenin vs Iga Swiatek | French Open Women's Final | 10/10/2020, 2pm BSTKenin to win 8/5 Bet Now! New Customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org.
Kenin vs Swiatek is live from Roland Garros on Saturday 10 October, 3pm local/2pm BST
The past decade has seen six women claim their maiden Grand Slam titles at the French Open, and with just 23 games dropped on the way to her first major final, Iga Swiatek could be poised to become the seventh.
Sofia Kenin, however, has other ideas. The American defused Petra Kvitova’s game in the semifinal and has her sights set on a second major title in 2020 in Saturday’s Roland Garros final.
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
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Kenin vs Swiatek: Head-to-head
This is the first match Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek have played as pros.
They did meet at the French Open in juniors, however – Swiatek won in two sets.
Kenin vs Swiatek: Preview
It won’t bother Sofia Kenin at all that Iga Swiatek hasn’t dropped a set so far at this French Open – after all, neither had Petra Kvitova before their semifinal encounter, and Kenin still disposed of the more experienced Czech neatly 6-4, 7-5.
Kenin doesn’t seem to get the respect she deserves, perhaps because there was so little time for her to consolidate the unexpected Australian Open title she won (although she did win a title in Lyon) before the sport was shut down. And people were so eager to slap a ‘Kenin in trouble!!!!!’ narrative on her after losing 0-6, 0-6 to Victoria Azarenka in Rome, as if Azarenka wasn’t in the form to be bagelling people left, right and centre.
But here she is in her second Grand Slam final in the space of a season, and she still isn’t really the biggest story in it. That billing is reserved for Poland’s Iga Swiatek, whose run to her maiden Grand Slam final – the first French Open final reached by a Polish woman – has been eye-poppingly good. Simona Halep, the tournament favourite, was made to look like just another hapless victim of Swiatek’s whirlwind forehand and dazzling net game; in the semifinals, Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska – a player coming into her own and one to look out for over the next few years – was in the match for almost a whole minute before Hurricane Iga blew her away.
Will Swiatek be able to play like this in a Grand Slam final? It’s entirely possible; she hasn’t seemed bothered too much by the scale of the occasion up until this point, although she’s struggling big-time in the women’s doubles semifinal at the time of writing. The better question is: If she does play like she has been, can Kenin neutralise her the way the American did Kvitova?
Yes – and no. Kvitova did make a few too many forehand errors and failed to find her first serve at a few crucial moments. But there are a lot of things Kenin does well which make her a very tough opponent to beat. She defends brilliantly, yes – fundamentally a counterpuncher, she can get a lot of balls back and make rallies extremely long – but she also serves with a really high degree of precision, if not power, despite her somewhat odd-looking motion. Time and time again, her backhand return down the line put Kvitova on the back foot before the rally had even properly started, and she has been deploying a well-played forehand drop shot frequently and extremely smartly.
Kenin is a combination of feisty and cool-headed which makes her a magnificent competitor, and she is a particularly good front-runner. If Swiatek has any vulnerabilities on Saturday, and it’s hard to believe there won’t be some for the Pole in her first Grand Slam final, Kenin will expose them.