How Kenin Emerged From Wilderness To Occupy Her Highest Ranking In Almost Two Years

How Kenin Emerged From Wilderness To Occupy Her Highest Ranking In Almost Two Years

by Nurein Ahmed

Sofia Kenin's rejuvenation is one of the major takeaways from last week's Guadalajara Open, in which the American made it to the semifinal stage.

That marked the first time since 2019 when she attained back-to-back semifinal showings at Tour level. Kenin was a runner-up in San Diego, losing a nailbiter to Barbora Krejcikova. She fell short in her quest to reach a second final in as many weeks in Guadalajara where she lost to Caroline Dolehide.

Nonetheless, Kenin forged her most productive spell since 2020 - the year she announced herself on the main event stage when she shockingly defeated reigning World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty en route to winning the Australian Open.

There wasn't any direct correlation between her performance and the tennis shutdown that year due to the coronavirus pandemic. That is because Kenin still reached another Slam final at Roland Garros in October once the WTA Tour resumed. But the suspension of tennis tournaments couldn't have come at a worse time for Kenin.

When she spoke about it three years ago, she called it 'upsetting' as she had been playing very well. Sadly, the last great run she strung together was the French Open in the autumn of 2020, until this season. In between, she struggled to hit the dizzying heights of her breakthrough year due to injuries.

Kenin had a stressful time away from the court and briefly parted company with her father as her coach in 2021. Enforcing personnel changes didn't help Kenin get into a groove before she reunited with him later that year.

The Moscow-born Kenin endured a significant fall from grace in 2022. She battled injuries and her form was nonexistent. Kenin lost nine matches in a row between January and August and her ranking stooped to a lowly 426th, forcing her to drop down to the tennis' second tier to find her lost confidence.

Kenin scored a few wins to restore a semblance of normality at the back end of 2022 and began the new year with a confidence-boosting run to the Hobart semifinals. That result was expected to be a catalyst for her resurgence, but it wasn't until Wimbledon that her career appeared to have a second wind.

Kenin came through the qualifying rounds at the All England Club and sent Coco Gauff packing on Day 1 in one of the biggest upsets at this year's Championships. Although her campaign there ended at the third-round stage, the 24-year-old left London feeling positive about her game and her career.

And the last two weeks gave further confirmation that Sofia Kenin is very much back in the thick of things. Kenin was a near certainty to exit the Top 100 this month, but the past few weeks have changed that narrative. Kenin has soared 62 places and sits on the brink of a Top 30 return - it's her highest ranking since January 2022.


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