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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday January 15, 2024

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek handled 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin to remain perfect in opening round matches in Melbourne Park.

Photo Source: Getty

Circled by pundits as a must-see first-rounder, Iga Swiatek’s date with Sofia Kenin (a rematch of the 2020 Roland-Garros final, won by Swiatek) in Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday at the Australian Open represented a difficult challenge for World No.1 and four-time major champion Swiatek, and a grand opportunity for 2020 Australian Open champion Kenin.

Tennis Express

In the end, it went very much by script.

Swiatek, the game’s most dominant player over the last two seasons, was pushed by resurgent Kenin, but the Pole never wavered over the course of the contest, and eventually pulled away to earn an impressive 7-6(2), 6-2 victory in one hour and 51 minutes.

Many felt that Swiatek had been handed a difficult draw at this year’s Australian Open, the dangerous Kenin a potential pitfall for a player that often needs time to play herself into Grand Slam form. In the end it was Kenin who bore the brunt of the draw Gods – facing the tour’s most dominant player in the first round of a major is a recipe for a quick exit.

Kenin can hold her head high, however. The former World No.4 (now 41) took her cracks at Swiatek, particularly in a tense opening set that saw her serving for it at 5-4. But in the end the Pole was too clean, too consistent, and too determined. After Swiatek claimed the opening set tiebreak she gradually took over the contest, winning six of eight games in set two as she hammered away at Kenin’s second serve and finished the match with four breaks from nine opportunities.

With the win, Swiatek stretches her current win streak to 17 - she won her final 11 matches of 2023, then opened the season by going 5-0 at United Cup.

“Really happy,” Swiatek said on court after the match. “It wasn’t easy at the beginning to find my rhythm, I felt a little bit off and I feel like Sofia did everything to keep it that way – huge respect to her, she won this tournament and she knows what to do – but I’m happy that I managed to get my level up in the second set.”

Swiatek said she didn’t give too much thought to the fact that her opponent was a former champion in Melbourne.

“Tennis is a pretty tricky sport, with these draws you can play former champions, former World No.1s, really experienced players,” Swiatek said. “You never know who it’s going to be and you just have to be ready no matter what.

“I try to not focus on who is going to be on the other side of the net. I want to play my game and I know that if I’m going to play well in this tournament I have to win with everybody, or with most of the girls.”

22-year-old Swiatek will next face either Danielle Collins or Angelique Kerber in round 2. A difficult draw continues – or is it the other way around?


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