Kenin ready to seek Djokovic’s advice in Australian Open defence

French Open
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - October 10, 2020. Sofia Kenin of the U.S. looks dejected after losing the final against Poland's Iga Swiatek. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

January 5, 2021

(Reuters) – Sofia Kenin has never defended a Grand Slam title before but the reigning Australian Open champion said on Tuesday that she will seek advice from world number one Novak Djokovic if she feels the pressure is too much to handle.

Kenin won her maiden Grand Slam in Melbourne last year which set the American on course to break into the top 10 and claim the WTA Player of the Year award.

The 22-year-old, who was also the French Open runner-up, is currently ranked fourth in the world and will be among the top seeds in Melbourne when the event gets underway on Feb. 8.

“I definitely think I can talk to Novak… I think that will be helpful since we’re both defending champions,” Kenin told reporters ahead of the Abu Dhabi Open, a warm-up tournament before the Australian Open.

“He did give me great advice ahead of the final (last year) since we were practicing next to each other.”

Kenin, who was seeded 14th last year, came back from a set down to beat Spain’s twice Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza in the final.

“He came up to me and he was really nice about it and told me some things before the final which was special because I was crazy nervous,” Kenin added.

“He told me some things which I will not disclose since I’d rather keep it a secret.”

While many tournaments were played last season without crowds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenin hopes to see them return in numbers in Melbourne, even if capacity is limited.

“When I played at Cincinnati and U.S. Open (without crowds), it was completely different,” she said.

“It’s so quiet, like a ghost town. It’s not the ideal atmosphere, I love the fans and use their energy to help me play better. I’m going to be super excited to have some kind of crowd and try to go back to something normal.”

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)