Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Former French Open finalist Sofia Kenin broke four times sweeping home hero Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Roland Garros third round.

Photo credit: Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty

Paris is a preferred vacation destination for Sofia Kenin.

Today, Kenin gave Caroline Garcia a guided tour of Court Philippe Chatrier then showed her the second-round door.

Sabalenka: Pleasure Principle

World No. 56 Kenin broke serve four times sweeping home hero Garcia 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Roland Garros third round.

"It's Paris. Yeah, I mean, I love red clay," Kenin told the media in Paris. "I feel like it suits my game. I try to use it to my advantage, and I love the courts here. Especially playing on Philippe-Chatrier was even more special and memorable. I feel like I'm super comfortable on that court. I've got some amazing memories there, so I try to use that to my advantage."

The 2020 French Open finalist Kenin, who has reached the fourth round or better in her last three appearances in Paris, will play either ninth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, or talented Clara Tauson for a spot in the fourth round.

If it comes down to a clash of major champions between Kenin and Ostapenko, the first strike will be key.

"I mean, she's super aggressive like me," Kenin said of Ostapenko. "I feel like it's going to be who's going to be better, aggressive, movement?

"Hopefully if I do play her, hopefully she can be a little bit off to give me a little chance to win. But yeah, we'll see."

Serve and return are the two most important shots in the sport. Kenin beat the bigger-serving Garcia in both departments today—and gave her a tactical lesson as well..

The 2020 Australian Open champion exploited Garcia’s ultra-aggressive—and obstinate—return positioning serving 81 percent and dropping serve just once.

On return, Kenin torched the 21st-seeded Frenchwoman’s second serve, winning 18 of 28 points played on Garcia’s second serve and breaking four times, including rapping forehand return winners down the line to score two breaks.

“She has such a tough serve, I try to do what I can with my serve because that’s obviously important,” Kenin told Tennis Channel’s Jon Wertheim afterward. “Playing my game I think my movement is pretty damn good.

“So I’m super happy with it. I’m super happy with the level I’m playing. I’m super confident and it’s showing.”

Two-time Roland Garros doubles champion Garcia has soared to great heights on Court Chatrier in the past frequently landing her trademark jet landing to celebrate wins, but she crashed and burned in the second round suffering her eighth French Open second-round defeat.

"It's the third time I played her. She has a difficult game," Garcia said afterward. "Her game annihilates my strong points. She takes the ball early. She changes directions. She returns quite well. That actually makes her difficult to outplay.

"She's had a solid season. She also played well in the earlier tournaments."

The clarity Kenin brought to each point helped her pressure Garcia from the start and largely take French fans out of the match.

When Garcia failed to put a smash away, Kenin dug out a slick retrieval to extend and eventually win the point. Garcia netted a forehand to face a third break point and Kenin whipped a forehand return winner down the line breaking for 3-2.

The American backed-up the break at love for 4-2.

When Garcia tried challenging the Kenin backhand return on the ad side she sometimes paid a steep price. Kenin continued to hammer deep returns, converting her second set point for a one-set lead.

Though Garcia hits bigger, she betrays her own cause with her insistence on returning from a few feet inside the baseline. If you’re the young Marion Bartoli, with briefer backswings and better timing on the return, you can spit back returns on the rise.

In Garcia’s case, her forehand can fly even when she’s set so why rob yourself of even more time—and give your opponent the same predictable target—by returning so close?

Tennis is a sport based on adjustments—adjusting to the opponent, to conditions, the speed of the court, to the balls themselves—yet in this case Garcia stubbornly refused to adapt and violated the old Bill Tilden adage: “Never change a winning game plan, always change a losing one.”

Given Garcia is breaking serve just 24 percent of the time this season, one of the worst break percentages of any Top 100-ranked player, you would think she might vary the return position at least show the server a different look. Garcia does not agree.

Asked if she's considered modifying her high-risk, low-reward return position, Garcia replied "Are you new (smiling)?"

"My game has always been like this. I have been playing like this for 15 years, so no," Garcia said in her post-match presser. "I always want to keep my DNA. Sometimes I try to put more spin, to wait more, but it's not nice to see, I have to say."

Drilling her returns with confidence, Kenin broke twice in a row—for 3-1 and then 4-2—to build a one-set, one break lead.

The former world No. 4 won eight of her last nine service points, defeating Garcia for the third time in as many meetings.

Kenin, who started the season with a horrid 1-10 record struggling to win sets, has won five of her six singles matches on red clay this season and aims to keep this red rise going.

“I’m always comfortable playing here but I had no idea what to expect. I just tried to do what I could do in my end,” Kenin said. “In the first round, I was down 5-1 so I could easily not been in today’s round so I was obviously grateful.

“Coming out try to do the best I can and of course the fans are all supporting her, which is understandable, but I’m happy I had a few fans calling my name here and there.

"It was a great atmosphere. [I'm] feisty, I don’t have the biggest serve, but if I’m on I feel I’m a tough player to beat. You’re gonna have to battle to beat me so we'll see what happens next.”


Latest News