Sofia Kenin of the US holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at a photoshoot on the Yarra River following her win over Spain's Garbine Muguruza in women's singles final of the Australian Open tennis championship. Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP
Sofia Kenin of the US holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at a photoshoot on the Yarra River following her win over Spain's Garbine Muguruza in women's singles final of the Australian Open tennis championship. Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP

Kenin hopes to avoid slump after maiden Grand Slam success

Time of article published Feb 16, 2020

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DUBAI – Recently-crowned Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin is looking to learn from the experiences of other grand slam winners to avoid the pitfalls that can follow a maiden success on the big stage.

The 21-year-old American will be contesting her first tour event since her triumph in Melbourne in Dubai this week, where she is seeded fifth and will take on in-form Elena Rybakina in the opening round.

Several players on the women's tour have struggled to deal with the pressures that come in the aftermath of sudden success.

Naomi Osaka has openly discussed the difficulties of adapting to her new status after she won two Grand Slams and became Japan's first-ever world number one, while Jelena Ostapenko has had her ups and downs after lifting the Roland Garros title in 2017.

Kenin is hoping she can stay on track after her impressive run in Australia.

"I remember Naomi was here, I would have done anything to be in the position of being a Grand Slam champion. Yeah, trying to see what each player is doing, how they handle it. I think you have to learn from the best," Kenin told reporters in Dubai on Sunday.

"I'm just going to see what they're doing. I've got my dad here, my agents and everything. Hopefully they can help me out, just keep the process going forward."

Meanwhile, Dubai top seed Simona Halep was impressed by Kenin's achievement at such a young age and expects more strong results from the Russian-born American.

"I was happy actually to see Sofia Kenin winning a Grand Slam at 21. I think it's amazing. I played my first final I think at 22, something like that," said the Romanian, who opens her Dubai campaign against either Ons Jabeur or Alison Riske.

"To be able to win a grand slam means a lot. Now she's a great champion, Grand Slam champion. Now she has to enjoy this moment because it's very special for everyone. For sure she's going to be strong also in the future."

Fourth seed Belinda Bencic insists she is pressure-free ahead of her title defence in Dubai, despite her tricky opener against recent Australian Open quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

"I don't really get why all of the people think that success [at a tournament] and then playing there after that is pressure. For me, it's not. It's a privilege," said the Swiss.

"I won here last year, so I can only play great again here. That's how I see it. I think it's all about the mentality."

DPA

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