Sofia Kenin reached the third round at Wimbledon for the first time on Thursday. Or as the 2020 Australian Open champion put it, “Just trying to prove some people wrong.”
Kenin beat Wang Xinyu of China 6-4, 6-3 to back up her victory over seventh-seeded Coco Gauff that ended a streak of three straight first-round exits at Grand Slam tournaments.
The 24-year-old American came into Wimbledon ranked 128th and had to go through qualifying to reach the main draw — and she’s fine with that.
“If I know every time I’m going to get to the third round at a Slam, I’ll play qualies,” said Kenin, who was ranked No. 4 after her title at Melbourne Park. “Yeah, definitely I feel like that for sure helped me. Grass wasn’t always my favorite surface, and I felt like I had some really good solid wins in qualies even though they were against tough opponents.
“Looks obviously easy, but it was tough and I feel like those matches definitely gave me confidence.”
Kenin’s win on Court 4 wasn’t a work of art — she hit 11 winners to 17 unforced errors — but she jumped on Wang’s second serve and broke her four times.
The Russian-born Kenin next faces Elina Svitolina, a Ukrainian who is making a comeback of her own. Svitolina is back on tour after the birth of her first child in October. She beat five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the first round.
Kenin, who has dealt with a foot and ankle injuries, said she’ll prepare for “a long, tough match” because Svitolina “gets a lot of balls back, from what I remember.”
Svitolina followed up her win over Williams by eliminating 28th-seeded Elise Mertens 6-1, 1-6, 6-1.
The Ukrainian, who is ranked 76th, remembers Kenin as aggressive baseliner.
“She loves to strike the ball, dictate on the baseline. I’ll have to react quick. I’ll have to move my legs really, really well and expect a quick ball,” Svitolina said.
Regarding proving people wrong, Kenin didn’t point to anyone specific.
“It’s just like I didn’t have maybe the best results, but I felt like this year, you know, I started off pretty good overall and I just had to find my way,” she said. “I have been fighting it. Yeah, just hope that I can keep it going.”
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