2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin looks to return to form in Paris, where she faces Liudmila Samsonova for a spot in the second round. The Russian is playing in just her third slam main draw while Kenin will be hoping at at least match her round four of last year, where she took a set off eventual champion Ashleigh Barty.
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Samsonova does boast a powerful game that has helped make one step towards escaping the too good for qualifiers/ITF but not consistent enough for main draws quagmire. However, she has found it tough since the return to the tour. After qualifying for Palermo, she won just two of her last seven matches and comes into the tournament with a three match losing streak. The second of those came against Tsvetana Pironkova, a loss that looked far less problematic in hindsight.
Kenin had been looking like a live outsider at the US Open before Elise Mertens stopped her in her tracks in round four. The American will have been seeking to bounce back and make a good impression on clay in Rome ahead of this tournament but thinks couldn’t have gone worse for her. She lost 6-0 6-0 to a newly inspired Victoria Azarenka.
Many of the less consistent big hitters have found it tough in the opening days in Paris, finding it hard to remain controlled in the wet and cold conditions. If Samsonova has the same struggles, this one could end very quickly against an opponent who will remain solid and take her chances to push forward at the appropriate time.
Prediction – Sofia Kenin in straight sets