Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin targets a semi-final spot in Lyon when she faces Frenchwoman, Oceane Dodin on Friday.
Kenin vs Dodin is live from Lyon on Friday, 6 March from 5:30pm local time/ 4:30pm GMT
Kenin arrived Lyon on a three match losing streak, having suffered a Fed Cup defeat to Jelena Ostapenko, and failed to cross the opening rounds in Dubai and Doha (lost to Elena Rybakina and Dayana Yastremska respectively), but the American has finally got something going again in Lyon, beating Vitalia Diatchenko and Jaqueline Cristian to reach the quarter finals of the inaugural WTA event.
Her 6-4 6-3 victory over Diatchenko- her first WTA win since her Australian Open success- was straightforward enough, but the 21-year-old was made to work significantly harder by Romanian qualifier, Cristian in the second round, saving a match point before escaping with a 6-7 7-5 6-4 victory.
21-year-old Cristian seemed set to claim her biggest career win when she led 7-6 5-3, but she couldn’t convert a match point with Kenin serving at 3-5, and failed to serve out the match in the next game, surrendering the break via a double fault.
Kenin went on to take the second set, and survive a stuttering finish to move in to the last eight. The Australian Open champion failed to serve out the match at 5-3, but she broke in the next game to close out a topsy-turvy contest after two and a half hours. This is the first time she has claimed back-to-back wins outside Melbourne this year.
The world No. 5 fell in the second round in Brisbane and Adelaide, and exited Dubai and Doha after one round, but she is back in a quarter final in Lyon, and will attempt to push further forward when she faces Dodin on Friday.
The 21-year-old is seeking her fifth career title this week, having excelled in Hobart, Mallorca and Guangzhou last year, and added the Australian Open title to her collection earlier this season.
Frenchwoman, Dodin is into her second quarter final of the season, having also made the last eight in St. Petersburg, where she defeated Victoria Kuzmova and Johanna Konta before losing in three sets to Elena Rybakina.
Dodin has been winning a lot of matches lately, as she claimed an ITF W25 title in Macon in the week leading up to Lyon. Lyon is obviously at a much higher level than Macon, but Dodin has been building some momentum, and the former top-50 player represents a real threat to Kenin’s Lyon hopes on Friday.
The 23-year-old took down Mandy Minella 6-4 6-4 in her Lyon opener, while she benefited from a walkover in the second round when Jil Teichmann pulled out of their scheduled meeting.
A champion in Quebec City in September 2016 (her only WTA title till date), Dodin reached a career-high ranking of 46th in 2017, but her progress was curtailed by health problems she suffered in the subsequent seasons. Dodin missed the second half of 2018 and was out of the top-300 by the end of the year, while she fell out of the top-500 by June last season.
She didn’t start her 2019 season until April, but she put in a big shift at ITF level in the second half of the year, propelling herself to a year-end mark of 162nd. Now ranked 131st, the 23-year-old goes after her first WTA semi-final since August 2017 (Washington) when she faces top seed, Kenin for the first time in Lyon on Friday.
I think she’s got a good chance here- Kenin still isn’t at her best, and will have to play a lot better than she did against Cristian in the previous round to hold off Dodin, who is playing close to her top-50 level.