Tennis Prose



Kenin Collapse Continues in Indian Wells

Just a couple of years ago, Sofia Kenin looked poised to become the next big American superstar. She won the 2020 Australian Open (beat Muguruza) and reached the final of Roland Garros (lost to Swiatek).

But the career of Kenin has crashed since then. She’s gone from the brink of superstardom to irrelevance. Fila dropped her. The big sponsor deals bypassed her and were thrown at Raducanu and Osaka. The last twelve months have been so bad for Kenin, her ranking has fallen from no. 4 all the way to 130.

Kenin actually won her first two matches this year in Adelaide (beat Bronzetti and Tomljanovic) and appeared on her way back to the WTA elite pantheon. But then she lost to world no. 1 Barty 63 64. Kenin has lost first round at the next five tournaments (Sydney to Kasatkina 64 60, AO to Keys 67 57, Dubai to Ostapenko 61 62, Qatar to Li 36 76 36. and at BNP Paribas Indian Wells to Haddad Maia 36 57 last night).

On the surface, Kenin’s game looks the same but there are some minute differences, the passion, confidence and intensity are missing, Also perhaps Kenin looks a bit heavier in her lower half, which is inhibiting her movement to wide balls.

The Tennis Channel commentators noticed Kenin was not her usual self and lacking her former “mojo.” “She looks bored,” noted Caroline Wozniacki. “She looks like she would rather be somewhere else,” observed Lindsay Davenport. “She looks so sad,” said Pam Shriver.

Kenin lost the first set and battled to 2-0 lead in the second. She then blew a 40-love lead and lost five straight points to Haddad Maia. From then on she was never able to build a lead over the lefty Brazilian who now is 3-0 vs Kenin (the first two matches were in qualies in 2015 and 2017).

Maia, finalist at 2020 AO doubles and ranked in the 60s in singles, never looked in doubt or troubled by Kenin’s inconsistent baseline play. It’s stunning how in two years Kenin has fallen from Grand Slam champion and contender to a journeywoman.

Could the childhood prodigy be burned out by tennis at age 23? Or is this just a deep slump, simply waiting for the cure of what a couple of good wins can do to change her spirit and energy?

It will be back to the minor leagues and ITF tournaments for Kenin, unless she can get her hands on some wildcards like Andy Murray.

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