Roland Garros

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Paris, France

Sofia Kenin

Press Conference

S. KENIN/P. Kvitova

6-4, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What does it mean for you to be in two Grand Slam finals in 2020?

SOFIA KENIN: It's so special, honestly. I'm just really grateful with the way that I'm playing, with the way things are going. Yeah, I mean, it's not easy getting to a Grand Slam final. Having two this year, it's really special.

Q. What is your comfort level like now in terms of having been at these stages before? Do you think that will be an advantage for you in the final against a player who has never been this deep in a Grand Slam before?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, definitely, I'm going to use that as my advantage. Yeah, I'm definitely going to feel a bit nervous coming into the final. I've been there, done that. I know what the emotions are getting into your first Grand Slam final. I'm hoping she's going to be a little bit nervous.

But, yeah, I know what to expect, so I really hope it's going to go well for me.

Q. What did it feel like out there to save all those breakpoints in the second set, then finally have a little bit of a bad game, have it be level again? What was your mentality to keep pushing forward?

SOFIA KENIN: I mean, I know she's going to play big. It was, like, 5-3, she was serving. It was, like, 30-All. She came up with some really good, good points. Yeah, it was a little bit of a loose game for me. But she played really well at 5-4, as well.

Then, yeah, I just kept telling myself to keep fighting. Yeah, I mean, I obviously expected her to play better. Yes, I went down on myself, but I just told myself to keep playing.

Yeah, I'm just so happy to have converted that, getting the 6-5 lead. I tried to close it out the best I could. I think I saved a breakpoint or two. I was really happy to have saved it. So, yeah...

Q. You're taking on Iga in the final. What do you remember from the match you played her in juniors four years ago?

SOFIA KENIN: I mean, I remember I lost. I don't remember how I played. But definitely I can say I was not as comfortable on clay as I am now, as I started to feel last year.

Yeah, I don't remember what happened. I think it was like 4-4. Honestly, I don't remember. Yeah, I mean, she played well that match. Of course, we're both different players now.

I mean, I have to figure out what she does. She's had a great two weeks here. She's had some great results, playing some really good tennis.

I know that I'm also playing well. Yeah, I'm just going to enjoy myself today, and then tomorrow I'm going to prepare for Saturday.

Q. Do you feel your achievements this year have changed people's perceptions of you within tennis circles? Do you feel you get the respect and adulation in the U.S.?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, definitely. I feel like after Australia people started to know me. I felt a little more pressure from the outside. Keeping this level and playing some great tennis now is really special. Yeah, I feel like people are looking up to me. Definitely, I'm sure, and I hope that all my fans back in U.S. are on their chairs screaming loud for me and rooting for me.

Yeah, I feel like people definitely respect me and I'm happy. It's not easy to get respect. It's really easy to lose it. Like I said, people respect me. I'm going to keep it that way.

Q. If you had to point to one either aspect of your game or yourself as a person that you would say was the key to the success you've had this year in Grand Slam tournaments as opposed to coming into this year, what would you say that is?

SOFIA KENIN: As a person, I would say of course my game obviously has improved and I've worked on it. Just my mentality has obviously changed. I feel like I should be getting deep in a tournament, but try not to put pressure on myself.

I feel like, you know, as a person, I've gotten confidence. Having a lot of confidence leading up to the slams. Yeah, so it's a little bit of both, but for sure as a person.

Q. I'd like to know, are you impressed by Swiatek who lost only 23 games and no set in 12 sets? It's like Nadal in the men. Is that something in a way that is shocking you or does it impress you at all?

SOFIA KENIN: Of course, she's playing some great tennis, having great results. Petra also has not lost a set here. I mean, that obviously doesn't mean anything if I'm playing well.

Like I said, she's playing really well. She got to the final. She's had some great wins. I'm sure she has a lot of confidence and is super excited for the final.

I'm hoping that with my experience from Melbourne, it will help me for Saturday's final.

Q. Talk about being an incredible problem solver and fighter? What do you say to yourself? Is it fun to try to figure out what to do, how to break down the opponent, get out of tough situations?

SOFIA KENIN: I mean, definitely, yeah, I'm a problem solver. Yeah, I mean, you obviously have to expect tough situations. It's a tennis match. You know your opponent wants to win. They want to find your weakness.

Of course, you got to be smart, you got to know how to problem solve, expect that it's going to be tough situations, pressure situations.

I obviously like it not to get too crazy with the scoreline and everything. I prefer to be going easy, but obviously cannot expect that. I'm in semifinals. I'm not going to have a 6-0, 6-0 win, especially against Petra, who is playing some great tennis and is a great player. I have a lot of respect for her.

Yeah, I mean, you really got to first of all love the game, you got to love the competition, you got to love to compete. You know, you have to have that feist in you. Like I said in my previous press conferences, losing I really hate and I love winning. I try to do everything I can to win.

Q. You said that you didn't feel you could overpower Kvitova, but it certainly looked like you found that answer. Explain what you felt really went well with your game today.

SOFIA KENIN: Well, I feel like I returned really well. I know she has a big serve. I knew more or less where she likes to serve on tough points.

Yeah, I mean, obviously I felt like I could not overpower her. I knew I just needed to adjust my game. I had to control the points, move her, dictate, try not to give her short balls, try to have a good serve.

It's really important for me to have good serves today. More first serves in than second. Just be aggressive and take my chances.

Q. If you were to be writing a feature, a profile piece on yourself, how would you describe yourself as a player on court? What would you say about your attitude and your mannerisms on court during a match?

SOFIA KENIN: Feisty. One word, very feisty. Yeah, I feel like I've improved, I'm fighting for every point. It's not easy. Definitely feisty.

I guess a piece is I won a Grand Slam, and now I'm in the final of Roland Garros, which is really special. I guess that's a really nice piece to have. Hopefully might be another piece to write that I won Roland Garros, which would be really special.

Q. You talked about the win over Serena here last year giving you confidence on the clay. Can you compare yourself before that match to where you are now? Is it just that match triggered your belief that the surface could work for you?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, before my match against Serena, I obviously felt I was playing good my first match. But, yeah, I did not like clay at all.

Honestly, like in juniors, clay was not my strongest surface. I felt underpowered. I couldn't control the points. I didn't have great movement on clay. It was a bit of a struggle for me.

Yeah, definitely after playing against Serena, it gave me a boost in confidence. I did not have the best result in Rome. Of course, Vika played very well.

Yeah, I mean, I obviously could feel clay was not there for me. I knew that it just takes a few matches, I got to get a nice groove in. Definitely I really love the clay. I feel like I'm playing some best tennis on clay. I'm sliding a lot, moving a lot. I know how to adjust to the surface. So I'm loving the clay.

Q. I remember that you said in New York you don't have problems to slide on clay courts. It was demonstrated again. I would like to know, what about your serve? Some photos show you don't see the ball during the toss but for a split second. Were you trained as a child? It's part of your game?

SOFIA KENIN: I guess I've had that. Obviously I've had that my whole career. I know it's a little bit different. I've had great success with it. I think it would be quite wrong to start changing things now.

I've improved my serve. I feel like I'm serving well. I guess maybe it doesn't matter how you serve, as long as you get it in.

Yeah, that's worked for me.

Q. You've talked about the mental side, nerves going into this final, how you've improved that side. What do you do to work on that? Iga is working with a sports psychologist. Have you done anything like that?

SOFIA KENIN: First of all, I did see that Tennis Channel WTA tweeted when I said I'm going to be quite nervous leading up to the finals.

No, I haven't had that. I obviously saw that she has had that and it's really helped her. I just got to somehow handle it. I know what I need to do to handle myself.

I would rather have, like, a physio I guess than a psychologist and everything. I mean, I don't know. We'll see, I guess.

Q. When you won your first Grand Slam in Australia, usually that comes with great success, sponsors want to speak to you, all that jazz. With the pandemic, that must have been difficult because you can't really move around much. Has that been one disappointing thing this year? How have you adjusted to that?

SOFIA KENIN: I mean, yeah, obviously it was quite upsetting what happened. Win a Grand Slam, of course it's normal to expect things happening, more attention, some deals. Of course with the whole pandemic, things kind of got on hold. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but it got on hold, put things on a pause, which was quite disappointing.

Like I said in previous press conferences, I didn't have really motivation when I knew that everything is shut down. It took some time for me to get my motivation back. I finally got it. I feel like I'm playing the best tennis right now, as well. I was playing really well in Australia. Now I feel like I'm playing as good or even better. Cannot complain with how things are going for me. Yeah, I'm just really grateful.

Q. The relationship you have with your dad as your coach, do you want to go into that just a little bit?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, I've worked with him my whole career. He knows me better than any other coaches. It's worked really well. I know there's a few people on tour that has the father/coach. We've made it work. I'm not going to change that.

Q. You've told us you feel like you're really close to a really special achievement here in Paris. What is the difference between thinking you can win a Grand Slam and knowing you can win a Grand Slam?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, definitely butterflies I guess. Of course, I really want to win. I have to somehow try not to let my nerves get the better of me. Of course, there's a really good chance I can possibly win. It would be very special.

But it is special to be here. I obviously want to make the next step. Really would love to take the title. We're going to see how it's going to go on Saturday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
102439-1-1145 2020-10-08 18:06:00 GMT

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