America’s 21-year-old Sofia Kenin stunned world No 1 and home hope Ashleigh Barty to reach her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open on Thursday. The Moscow-born American reached her first Grand Slam final with a surprise 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 victory over Australia’s top seed and home favourite.
Kenin is used to playing the role of party spoiler, having defeated 15-year-old fellow American Coco Gauff in the fourth round.
Kenin was emotional when she defeated Gauff but this time, in the immediate aftermath of beating Barty, she looked stunned.
“I’ve just dreamed about this moment since I was five-years-old with that Andy Roddick video,” she said in her on-court interview with Jim Courier. Kenin and Courier also shared anecdotes about the time they were mixed doubles partners...when she was only seven.
The mention of the famous video got a laugh from everyone. It showed a seven-year-old Kenin, also known as Sonya, talking about she would play Roddick and beat his serve. Years later, even the American Grand Slam champion was amused by the tiny Kenin’s assessment of his serve.
Check it out for yourself.
The 21-year-old has called her Australian Open experience “surreal”.
“I’ve worked so hard. I’ve put all the efforts into my practices, into my fitness,” added Kenin, whose fighting spirit and tenacity has been her trademark over the last fortnight.
“All the efforts I’ve been doing, it’s got me here. It’s just paying off and it’s like a dream come true for me.”
Kenin enjoyed a breakthrough 2019, winning her first three WTA titles, but was something of an unknown quantity at the start of the first Grand Slam of the year.
The only American left in the draw suddenly finds herself in the limelight – and she is enjoying it there.
“I know people haven’t really paid attention much to me in the past. I had to establish myself – and I have,” said Kenin.
“Now I’m getting the attention, which I like – not going to lie.
“But my phone is blowing up these past two weeks, I haven’t been able to check normal... my Instagram, Twitter, everything.
“It’s blowing up, I love this attention. I’m enjoying every single moment of it.”
With AFP Inputs