In the slightly more predictable of the two women’s semifinals, Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Sofia Kenin will compete for a spot in their first ever Roland Garros final. The seventh-seeded Kvitova has been in cruise control all tournament, winning each of her five matches in straight sets. The American, on the other hand, has been winning ugly, dropping a set in all but one of her matches in Paris.
But if you know anything about Kenin, you’ll know she couldn’t care less how she wins the match—all that matters is the end result. When asked in press what she loves most about tennis, Kenin was quick to respond.
"Winning, definitely," Kenin said. "That's my answer. I mean, there are so many other words I can think of, but yeah, winning is definitely the one. It's something that I really love, and I love winning more than anything, so, yeah, winning."
Kenin had never beaten Danielle Collins prior to their quarterfinal matchup, and she’ll need to do the same against Kvitova, who owns a 2-0 record over the 2020 Australian Open champion. The Czech dismissed Kenin, 6-1, 6-4, last year in Madrid to the tune of nine aces—a stellar figure on the slow red clay.
While Kenin keeps finding ways to win, it’s clear that clay will never be her favorite surface. It does no favors for players who hit the ball flat and on the rise, which makes her semifinal run even more impressive. Kvitova will have time to wind up her ultra-powerful strokes. If she serves well, this match will likely be hers to win or lose.
Kvitova arguably owns the most effective slice-out-wide serve since Martina Navratilova. When she hits her spots, like she did in Madrid, she is nearly impossible to break.
The slice serve is her bread and butter. When she hits it well, you have to cheat on your return position (notice Kenin straddling the outside singles line), which opens up her T-serve.
Kenin didn’t find much success in their last meeting, but her trademark moonballs and surprise drop shots are effective on any surface.
"I'm just going to have to figure out a way to balance my game out," Kenin said. "Obviously I'm not going to overpower her since I'm not going to be able to. But I've got different things I can throw in to mix things up."
We’ve learned time and time again never to underestimate Kenin. She’s one of the fiercest competitors the women’s game has ever seen, but she just might be outgunned come Thursday.
The Pick: Petra Kvitova