Kenin: 'It's a great generation'

Australian Open champion falls short in second major final of 2020 but hails youthful dominance of the majors

 - Alex Sharp

Sofia Kenin is proud to be among a stacked bunch of young women jostling for dominance on the Grand Slam stages.

The 21-year-old American came up short of claiming two majors in 2020 as she fell in the Roland-Garros final to Iga Swiatek on Saturday. Both, though, were now firmly entrenched as part of "generation now" flourishing at the majors. 

I think it's great, a new generation coming up," the No.4 seed said. "It's a bit more competition on us, the top players. So obviously sometimes we may not like that. We obviously want to, I guess, keep our generation and not let the youngsters take over.

"But it's always good to see youngsters taking over and playing great tennis. It's always good to mix it up. It’s a great generation. We have to get ready and prepare because they're going to play better against us.”

Realising it sounds like she might be passing the baton prematurely, Kenin quickly clarified.

“I'm just speaking I guess on their behalf," she said. "No, I'm 21. I'm a youngster. I'm still in the generation. I'm fine.”

Kenin fell 6-4, 6-1 in the women's final to the inspired Swiatek, the 19-year-old who carved out her own special piece of history, as the American had done at Melbourne Park eight months ago.

For Kenin, back at a career-high ranking of No.4 on Monday, it has been a season of flourishing on the Grand Slam scene.

“I mean lot of positives for sure. My agent told me that I'm 16-2 in Grand Slams, in matches. I think that's pretty good,” she said. “I guess I have the most winning matches in Slams. Obviously, I'm playing some really good tennis at the Slams. In Australia I won. US Open I got to the fourth round, had a tough one against Elise Mertens. Here getting to the finals.

“Yeah, it sucks the season is over for us. I really wish there were more tournaments. I'm going to use this time to get my leg rested and everything, and start pre-season.”

Kenin was keen to pay tribute to Swiatek’s stunning performance, but bemoaned being physically hampered from the third round onwards in Paris.

“She's really hot right now, playing some really great tennis,” the American said.

“Kind of started off a bit slow, which I guess it was nerves or something. But I found my groove. We had a long 3-all game. A really long 3-4 game on my serve. I had a few chances. 5-3 I was able to save a set point. 5-4 I started, up 15-Love in the game, a few things just didn't go my way.

“I'm not going to use this as an excuse, but my (left) leg obviously was not the best... She's had a great run, great tournament. All credit to her.”

The magic of Melbourne seems so long ago for Kenin, who cherishes every moment from her Australian Open title run in February, but it was a difficult experience on the other side of the trophy ceremony this time.

“She was giving her interview, and I was just sitting on the bench and crying. Obviously I had a lot of emotions. I tried my best to not cry in the speech and everything. At the end I cried,” Kenin said.

“It's not easy. I wish I would have held that beautiful trophy. Yeah, it's not easy standing when you were so close to win the title and you lost it. It's tough. But it is what it is.”

There are plenty of positives to draw from six wins in Paris, especially following a rocky start on the clay. Recent US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka dismissed the 21-year-old 6-0, 6-0 in Rome in her only competitive build-up to Roland-Garros. Kenin was happy to prove doubters wrong.

“I wish I would have won, but I'm just happy that I got to where I am now. I guess, as some people said in Rome, lost bagel, let's just say like that, and then I'm able to get to the finals. I think it's a good result for me," she said.

“Of course, I'm quite disappointed I didn't get the title, but overall I'm going to take the positives.”