PARIS – Sofia Kenin entered 2020 with an 11-11 record in Grand Slam action. She never had made the quarterfinals at any clay-court tournament until this trip to Roland Garros — and lost her only tuneup match on the surface 6-0, 6-0 last month.
Iga Swiatek is just 19. She’s ranked 54th. She’s never won a tour-level title of any sort. She’d never before been past the fourth round at a major tournament.
Look at the two of them now — French Open finalists.
Already the owner of a major trophy from this year’s Australian Open, the No. 4-seeded Kenin moved into the title match in Paris by beating No. 7 Petra Kvitova 6-4, 7-5 on Thursday.
“My mentality has obviously changed,” said Kenin, who said she derived a boost of confidence from upsetting Serena Williams at Roland Garros a year ago. “I feel like I should be getting deep in a tournament, but try not to put pressure on myself.”
The 21-year-old American will carry a 16-1 mark in Grand Slam action this season into Saturday’s matchup against Poland's Swiatek.
“I’m going to be, like, an ‘underdog,’” Swiatek said, using her fingers to make air quotes.
Maybe. On the other hand, consider how dominant she has been along the way to becoming the lowest-ranked women’s finalist at Roland Garros since the WTA computer rankings began in 1975. Her latest lopsided win was via a 6-2, 6-1 score against Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska.