You aren’t alone if you are wondering why Sofia Kenin is playing on quick indoor hardcourts in Lyon, France just a week before a huge outdoor tournament in Indian Wells. But the Australian Open champion made a commitment to play the event, and the timing hasn't turned out to be the worst, considering her record since her breakthrough in Melbourne—heading into this week, it was a dismal 1-3.
Adjusting to life with a giant target on her back, Kenin is trying to scrap and claw her way out of a natural letdown. Everyone wants to say they’ve beaten a Grand Slam champion, so life on tour is tougher for the 21-year-old.
It just makes Kenin, who fights her hardest every time she takes the court, fight even harder. She's won three matches in Lyon, though it hasn't come easy: on Thursday and Friday, she needed three sets to beat Jaqueline Cristian and Oceane Dodin, both ranked outside the Top 100. But she won those matches, and that's what matters most.
Kenin might not get so lucky in her semifinal matchup with Alison Van Uytvanck, who at No. 62 is a big step up. The Belgian has won three of her four WTA titles indoors and plays a classic, power game. When she’s on, she can hit her opponent clean off the court, just like she did in her 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal victory over Caroline Garcia.
Van Uytvanck boasts a trending UTR of 50th in the world, while Kenin sits at No. 13. Kenin is still the better player, but they’ve been trending different directions in the last few weeks. Do not be surprised if Van Uytvanck capitalizes on this opportunity and goes on to compete for her fifth WTA title.