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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday January 6, 2020

Sofia Kenin is a natural when it comes to handling big-time pressure on the tennis court. She just has that it factor. But even a ringer like the World No.4 is happy to take a bit of extra advice from a dominant force like Novak Djokovic.

Tennis Express

Kenin told journalist Reem Abulleil during her pre-tournament press conference at Abu Dhabi that the World No.1 gave her some keen advice before last year’s Australian Open final.

Abulleil asked Kenin if there was anybody that she’d talked to about the challenges of dealing with the pressure of being a defending champion at the Australian Open and that’s when the American told of her moment last year with the Serb.

"No I haven't talked to [any other players] about what to do when it comes to this, but I definitely think I can talk to Novak,” she said. “Since, you know, we started talking and we're talking, so I think that would be helpful, since we're both defending champions and I think he would give me some great advice.”

Kenin said that Djokovic struck up a conversation with her last year in Australia when the two were practicing close to one another before last year’s finals. She wouldn’t divulge the contents of their conversation, but it was clear that it meant a lot to Kenin.

“And he did give me great advice [about] the final, because obviously we were practicing next to each other and he came up to me and was really nice about it and told me some things before the final, which you know, was special,” she said. “I obviously was crazy nervous, he told me some things which I will not disclose, since I would rather keep it secret."

Kenin says she’s always been willing to buck up to the pressure, it’s just something that she was born with.

"I've always been hard on myself,” she said. “I hated losing in practices, I would always cry when I was little. That's pressure that I kind of like established, so it's fine. But yeah, I've just gotten used to the pressure.”

But the World No.4 admits that defending a Grand Slam title is a new challenge, and it won’t be easy.

“This one's going to be a bit different, since I'm the defending champion and it's different,” she said. “Even in Paris, it's still going to be pressure, but it's not like how it is going to be in Australia, but those two are going to be the key for me to try to do the best I can to handle it and to try not to put extra pressure on myself and expectations and everything."

Kenin was named the WTA Player of the Year in 2020 after a season that saw her go 16-2 at the Grand Slams and claim two titles. She says she’s eager to carry that confidence and momentum forward as she heads into the 2021 campaign.

"I definitely feel like I'm a top player and I've proven it,” she said. “I definitely feel like there's more pressure from the outside, I'm putting a little bit more pressure, trying to have good runs at tournaments, being quite hard on myself at the Slams, but hopefully I can have a good run there, but overall confidence of course has gone up, I had a really good last year tennis-wise, so just trying to keep the momentum going."