Kenin Downs Kvitova To Host French Open Final With Swiatek
Sofia Kenin defeated Petra Kvitova 6-4, 7-5 on Thursday to reach the final of the French Open and attempt to capture a second Grand Slam of the year following her triumph at the Australian Open.
Fourth-seeded Kenin will face 19-year-old Polish Iga Swiatek in Saturday’s deciding match after defeating two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova in her bid for a third major.
Swiatek became the first Polish woman in 81 years to reach the Roland Garros final by defeating Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska 6-2, 6-1.
“I knew I had to be at my best. I am very happy and proud of myself, “said Kenin.
The American wavered when she served for the match at 5-4 but she broke Kvitova in the next game before closing out the win over the seventh-seeded Czech.
The 21-year-old Kenin will attempt to become the first woman to win two Slams in the same season since Angelique Kerber won the Australian and US Open titles in 2016.
“I have won in Australia and I have had very tough games this week so that gives me confidence,” said Kenin. “I’m going to enjoy this moment and then start preparing for the final tomorrow.”
Before this season, Kenin had never reached the quarterfinals on clay. She lost her only match on the surface this year before Roland Garros, 6-0, 6-0 to Victoria Azarenka in Rome.
Kenin, who was carried into three sets in four of her five matches leading up to the semifinals, led 4-1 in the first set against Kvitova with a double break.
The Czech immediately clawed back and created another opening to level serve, but Kenin held her ground and finished the set when Kvitova hit a long backhand.
Kenin struck again with a break in the fifth game of the second set, fending off four break points in the next game to keep Kvitova at arm’s length.
Her frustration was clear when she squandered her first chance to secure victory, but the tenacious Kenin earned a second chance and sealed her place in the final with a valiant serve.
The championship game will be the first in the majors to feature two players 21 and younger since Maria Sharapova beat 20-year-old teammate Ana Ivanovic at the 2008 Australian Open.
Swiatek, ranked 54th, has yet to drop a set in the tournament, conceding just 23 games in six matches. The last woman to capture the French Open title without losing a set was Justine Henin in 2007.
“It seems unreal,” Swiatek said. “I never thought at first that she would play so well here, but I always knew that if she was going to be in the final of a Grand Slam it would be the French Open.”
“It’s amazing to me,” she added. “It is a dream come true.”
Swiatek has matched the run of her compatriot Jadwiga Jedrzejowska, who finished runner-up at Roland Garros in 1939.
She is the second Polish woman to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era after Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon in 2012.
Swiatek becomes the seventh non-seeded female finalist at Roland Garros. Of the previous six, only Jelena Ostapenko in 2017 went on to lift the trophy.
“I basically wanted to play this game like it was the first round. I didn’t want to think I was in the semi-finals because it would stress me out, ”Swiatek said.
She has not faced Kenin on the tour level, but defeated her in straight sets in women’s singles at Roland Garros in 2016.
“I will need to be at a different level, the highest level, although I am winning easily right now,” added Swiatek. “I really have no expectations. I don’t care if I’m going to win or lose. I’m going to play my best tennis. ”
Podoroska, world number 131, was the lowest-ranked semifinalist in Paris in the modern era, and the first female qualifier to reach the semifinals of the French Open.
She will rise to a career best of 48 after the tournament, having come without a single Grand Slam main draw win to her name.
“Of course my classification will change and the tournaments that I will play. But not my life, ”Podoroska said. “I will be the same person. I will try to improve my game, as I have been doing in recent years.”