TORONTO, Canada - Sofia Kenin is on a warpath at the Rogers Cup, where she’s through to her first career Premier-level semifinal and has dropped just one set all week long.
That one set she lost? A tightly-contested opening set tiebreak against the top seed Ashleigh Barty in the second round - but the 20-year-old American eventually rallied back to stun Barty in three, recording her first ever win over a World No.1-ranked player.
But what Kenin is even more proud of is what she did one round later.
“Two days ago I beat Ash, and I was able to take that momentum and keep playing well,” Kenin told wtatennis.com, speaking after her comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Dayana Yastremska on Thursday.
“So I didn’t really stop there, which tends to happen - you know, you have a great win and then in the next round you lose. I felt like I carried it on well. And having these matches under my belt definitely helps to boost my confidence.”
Backing up the big win over Barty with two more Rogers Cup victories is Kenin’s clearest sign of mental improvement - an area of her game that she’s admitted to working on in the past.
“It was a different kind of pressure, rather than playing Ash,” Kenin said. “Which is also good for me, because mentally I was probably more nervous today [against Yastremska].
“My dad-slash-coach was telling me, this is a different mentality that you’re going to go into this match with, so just try and handle it. And I’m proud that I did well - this is really good.”
Case in point: at the French Open earlier this year, Kenin played one of the matches of her life to stun No.10 seed Serena Williams - who was going for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title - in the third round. One round later, however, she fell in a tough three-setter to eventual champion Barty - losing the third set to love.
But, in what has quickly become the theme of Kenin’s week so far, she took the learnings from those matches to claim her revenge in Toronto.
“It's not easy coming back after you have played your opponent and lost,” Kenin said. “So just, you got to handle it differently and figure out what you did wrong, and I think I'm doing a good job of that.”
In fact, in all but one of her Rogers Cup matches Kenin has had to play against an opponent that has beaten her in their last encounter: Yastremska had also defeated her at Wimbledon, and No.6 seed Svitolina claimed a narrow victory in their Indian Wells encounter, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
“Having these really good wins under my belt against these really tough players and top players, I think it's always good and it just gives me more confidence,” Kenin told press after her quarterfinal win over No.6 seed Elina Svitolina. “It's helping me to keep the rhythm going.”
She’ll look to keep that streak alive in her next round against Bianca Andreescu, who’s torn through the draw to become the first Canadian woman in 50 years to reach the semifinals at home.
Kenin is the last player to have beaten Andreescu in a completed match this year, claiming a three-set thriller over the Canadian, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 en route to the Acapulco final. But a few weeks later in Miami Andreescu, fresh off of a run to the BNP Paribas Open title, stormed past Kenin to win 6-3, 6-3.
“It definitely gives me more motivation to play,” Kenin said. “I guess revenge is the key, so I'm just going to keep it going.”