Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin targets her second title of the year when she faces a resurgent Anna-Lena Friedsam in the Lyon final on Sunday.
?? Sofia Kenin  vs ?? Anna-Lena Friedsam Match Info
Date: Sunday March 8
Tournament: ATP Lyon Final
Time: 3.00pm local time (2.00pm GMT)
Sofia Kenin vs Anna-Lena Friedsam Head-to-Head
Sofia Kenin vs Anna-Lena Friedsam Match Preview
It’s been a struggle, but Kenin has advanced into her first final since the Australian Open – can the World No. 5 claim her fifth career title when she confronts Friedsam in the Lyon final?
After registering her first WTA win since departing Melbourne in the opening round over Vitalia Diatchenko, Kenin has battled through three consecutive three-setters, edging Jaqueline Cristian, Oceane Dodin and Alison Van Uytvanck to reach the final.
Kenin was pushed all the way by indoors specialist Van Uytvanck in Saturday’s semi-finals, eventually prevailing in a deciding set tiebreak, firing 29 winners in a 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(2) triumph after two hours and 27 minutes.
Even in the wildly unpredictable landscape of women’s tennis, not many people would have picked Kenin to pick up her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, but the 21-year-old peaked when it matter most, taking out World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and a very in-form Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals and final respectively to shoot to superstardom and overtake Serena Williams as the No. 1 ranked American.
Understandably, Kenin found it difficult to back up after her sensational Australian Open, going winless across the Middle Eastern swing in Dubai and Doha – however, they were far from bad defeats, going down to the on-fire Elena Rybakina and fellow rising star Dayana Yastremska.
Kenin is still far from the level she produced to prevail in Melbourne, but she’s winning matches again and that will give her confidence – which is important before two Premier Mandatory events in Indian Wells and Miami later this month. Can she take home a fifth career title in Lyon on Sunday?
Friedsam will prove a very tough obstacle to overcome. The German, who missed large chunks of the last four years due to two shoulder surgeries, has also been forced to work extremely hard to reach her first WTA final since Linz in 2015. Friedsam started her Lyon campaign with straight set dispatches of Anastasiya Komardina and Kristina Mladenovic before overcoming Viktoria Kuzmova and Daria Kasatkina in three sets in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. Friedsam bounced back from a second-set lapse to topple former top 10 player Kasatkina 6-3 3-6 6-2 in Saturday’s semi-finals.
“It feels great. It makes me feel that all the hard work has paid off. I’m super proud,” she said. “She’s a great player and very solid. She doesn’t make any bad decisions. I tried to play to my strengths.
“I tried to use my power, push her out of court and get to the net. I think it worked today, but it was a hard fight and a hard battle.”
Friedsam, 26, hit her career-high ranking of No. 45 in 2016 after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open and third round of Wimbledon, along with making her aforementioned final in Linz at the end of 2015, but just as she was about to take her career to the next level, she was struck down by serious shoulder injuries. The German was forced to undergo two surgeries and barely played after the 2016 U.S. Open, competing in just 16 matches throughout 2017 and 2018.
Returning to the tour unranked in February of last year, Friedsam first used her protected ranking to enter a bunch of WTA events, before dropping down to the ITF circuit towards the end of the season to rebuild her ranking. The move worked, with Friedsam winning the $25k event in Roehampton and making the final of another, eventually ending 2019 at No. 144 in the world.
Sofia Kenin vs Anna-Lena Friedsam Prediction
Friedsam has been playing very well this week, and if she can continue to be aggressive, I think she has a decent chance of upsetting Kenin and claiming a first WTA title. It will be a very similar match to her semi-final against Kasatkina – the German will need to play first-strike tennis and find a way to avoid long baseline exchanges, which Kenin thrives on. The Australian Open champion has been battling all week and will need to raise her level if she is to come away with the silverware.