Indian Wells Throwback: Sofia Kenin gets revenge on Wang Yafan

Indian Wells Throwback: Sofia Kenin gets revenge on Wang Yafan

Just four days ealier, Yafan had upset Kenin in the 2019 Mexican Open final.

With the cancellation of the 2020 BNP Paribas Open, Tennis Channel is re-airing matches from previous Indian Wells tournaments. This match can be seen on Wednesday at 5:30 PM ET/2:30 PM PT.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Sofia Kenin over the past year, it’s that she is one of the game’s grittiest competitors. From her Australian Open triumph to her most recent title in Lyon, Kenin’s competitive fire burns as bright as anyone's.

Last March, Kenin and China’s Wang Yafan became very familiar with each other. Just days before facing off in the BNP Paribas Open’s first round, they battled for the 2019 Mexican Open title in Acapulco. After dropping the first set 6-2, Yafan stormed back to capture her first WTA title with an impressive 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 upset over the American. 

Yafan upset Kenin in the Mexican Open final four days before their meeting at Indian Wells. (Getty Images)

Fortunately for Kenin—whose sour post-final handshake left something to be desired in the sportsmanship department—she immediately had her chance at revenge.

Kenin combines her court-shrinking quickness with a desire to win every point. Her backhand is world-class, and she uses it to disguise what might be the game’s most effective drop shot.

Still, Yafan breezed through the first set, capitalizing on four of six break point opportunities. Kenin regained her composure in the second set, breaking Yafan in the first game and holding on for a 7-5 second set. In the third, Kenin sprinted to a 3-0 lead. Yafan would then catch fire, reeling off four consecutive games to retake the lead.

But just when she needed to, Kenin would ratchet her game the highest level, punching the gas pedal one last time to secure a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory. 

Kenin overcame a sluggish first set where she was broken four times. (Getty Images)

This time last year, we knew Kenin was a promising young player, but we didn’t know how exactly special she was. Watching this match knowing what we do now, it’s easy to see why nobody wants to play Kenin. No matter how tired, discouraged, or off she might be, it’s still not going to be an easy day at the office.