Sofia Kenin was one of the breakthrough stars on the main tour in 2019, winning three maiden WTA titles and cracking the top-20 after just two years since her transition to the professional circuit. Her game has evolved drastically as compared to her debut at a major tournament and is now labelled as one of the most dangerous opponents due to her clean ball-striking ability.
Amassing a 49-23 win-loss record this season, Kenin competed against top-10 players in 15 of those matches and triumphed on five occasions. Amongst those ranked outside the top-10, the 21-year-old played the most matches against the elite batch. A debut at the WTA Elite Trophy and the WTA Finals, as an alternate, ensued after her impressive performances.
High Points: Three International titles, impressive consistency
Kenin won her maiden WTA title at the Hobart International where she was unseeded and looming. She stunned top seed, Caroline Garcia, in the opening round and defeated a total of three seeded players to win the title without losing a set. Her triumph allowed her to crack the top-50 for the first time in her career entering the Australian Open, where she led world number one, Simona Halep, by a break in the deciding set.
Thriving on hard courts, the American soon doubled her finals count after storming into the championship match at the Abierto Mexicano, ousting former world number one Victoria Azarenka and future breakout star Bianca Andreescu along the way.
Kenin then recorded her best Grand Slam performance at the French Open, stunning the legendary Serena Williams in straight sets to reach the second week in Paris for the first time in her career. She had a quick turnaround from clay to grass, winning her second WTA title at the Mallorca Open having saved three match points against Belinda Bencic in a high-quality final.
The 21-year-old rose nine spots in the ranking during the North American hardcourt swing, reaching back-to-back Premier 5 semifinals at the Rogers Cup and the Western and Southern Open respectively. During her runs, she clinched four top-10 wins, including two wins over reigning world number ones.
Capitalizing on her status as the third seed, Kenin lifted yet another title at the Guangzhou Open and successfully booked her spot at the second-tier year-end championships WTA Elite Trophy. As the second alternate at the WTA Finals, she was also able to make her debut in Shenzhen by playing one match.
Low Points: Struggle for big results
Kenin has a 6-4 record at the Grand Slams this year, which can be said to be an underperformance. The American, with her ranking well inside the top-20 now, will be looking for a Major breakthrough next year.
It has been an excellent season for Kenin, whose consistency caught the eye of many pundits. If we were to pinpoint on a certain low point of her season, it would definitely be the clay-court season. She suffered a second-round exit at the Volvo Car Open before falling to Petra Kvitova at the Mutua Madrid Open and Karolina Pliskova at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia. Her worst loss by ranking this year came against 223rd-ranked Chloe Paquet in Strasbourg.
Season Grade: A
Kenin started the year outside the top-50 but she was one of the most improved players on the tour as she reached four tour-level finals in addition to two Premier 5 semifinals to end the year ranked 14th. Tipped for another breakthrough and a top-10 debut next year, Kenin has truly proven her potential this season.