Despite an early loss in Dubai last week, the Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin is in the top-5 for the first time in her career, preparing for the Premier 5 WTA event in Doha where she wants to produce her best tennis again.
The young American suffered early losses in Brisbane, Adelaide and Dubai, fixing that in Melbourne where she grabbed seven wins to conquer the title and add her name to the immortal list of Major champions. Speaking with journalists ahead of Doha, Sofia admitted there's extra pressure on her shoulders now, trying to deal with it and staying focus on her tennis as much as possible.
Also, she recalled that famous video when Kim Clijsters introduced her to Andy Roddick in Miami when she was a little girl, feeling proud about the support she got from both Kim and Andy after Melbourne, having a chance to see the Belgian in Dubai and talk with her for a while.
Sofia will open her Doha campaign against Dayana Yastremska or Kirsten Flipkens, seeking a strong start and a chance to fight for the title again after a short Dubai run last week. "I had the Fed Cup and everything, and last week it was a tough match for me, Rybakina played on a high level; she's on a nice streak," Kenin said.
"After the Australian Open, the expectations and pressure are higher but I have to find a way to deal with it. It would help if I can make a strong start in Doha and keep my momentum going forward to other events as well.
I'm singles player, although I want to play doubles as well at Majors and Premier 5 events; I will compete with Bethanie Mattek-Sands in Indian Wells and Miami. Andy Roddick followed me on Twitter and I followed back. I remember that Kim Clijsters video when she introduced me to Andy Roddick when I was a little.
I had followed his career when he was playing; I liked how he plays and everything. I saw the tweet and it was super exciting. His words meant a lot to me and it turns he was right, I'm a Grand Slam champion now. I talked with Kim Clijsters in Dubai; she congratulated me on the Australian Open title and asked how I feel, she was happy for me.
I'm super excited that she's back; I wish her all the best and, hopefully, she can stay for a few years. I want to keep the momentum going and deal with the pressure somehow because I fear early exits now. I will try to maintain my level and that should be enough to keep me in contention, even though I don't have to win every tournament I enter."