The 2020 season has been like no other in tennis. This year’s Baseline Awards look at the standout performers and moments during an unusual year.
As the saying goes, what a difference a year makes. Near the beginning of 2019, Sofia Kenin won the first title of her career in Hobart, then carried that run of form with her into the Australian Open, where she pushed world No. 1 Simona Halep to three hard-fought sets in the second round before falling.
After adding two more tournament wins to her resume, the American finished the year ranked well inside of the Top 20. Then, she returned to Melbourne, where an encouraging second-round finish would become a distant memory.
Seeded No. 14, Kenin battled through to the first Grand Slam final of her career, a run that included a win over world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals. In the championship match, Kenin prevailed in three sets over a resurgent Garbine Muguruza, cracking the WTA Top 10.
Instead of taking some time to relish the moment, Kenin played a fairly heavy schedule in February, but wasn’t able to keep up that run of good form as she split ties at the Fed Cup, then lost consecutive openers in Dubai and Doha. Entering the inaugural tournament in Lyon, France—where she was the only player ranked in the world’s Top 35—the world No. 5 struggled throughout the week, but in the end, claimed the title.
Soon after, the WTA schedule was halted due to the global pandemic.
Entering the bubble in New York City, Kenin dropped her opener at the Western & Southern Open, then fell in the fourth round of the US Open. Heading back to Europe to prepare for the French Open, she was routed 6-0, 6-0 by Victoria Azarenka in her only warm-up match in Rome.
If Kenin’s confidence had taken a hit, she sure didn’t show it in Paris.
Having never reached a clay-court final, the American battled over two weeks to advance to the biggest one of them all, winning four three-setters in six matches. In the championship match, the unseeded teenager Iga Swiatek stopped Kenin in straight sets for her first career title.
It was a year of ups and downs for the 22-year-old, but her successes took her to new heights as she shined on the game’s biggest stages.