Sofia Kenin fires father as her coach

Getty Images
3 Comments

Sofia Kenin no longer will be coached by her father, announcing just weeks before the French Open she is “putting together a new technical team.”

Kenin, the Australian Open champion and French Open runner-up in 2020, wrote about the switch on Instagram.

The post included a photo of Kenin and her dad, Alex, posing with the Australian Open trophy last year.

“I wanted to let everyone know that after many years together I have decided to part ways with my father as my coach. This was not an easy decision for me as we shared many great moments together and had a lot of success,” Kenin said. “I will be forever grateful for my dad’s sacrifice and contributions towards getting me to where I am today.”

The 22-year-old American is No. 4 in the WTA rankings.

Her father has been a constant presence at Kenin’s side on tour and in the stands, sometimes warned by chair umpires for coaching during matches, which isn’t allowed at major tournaments. That happened during the fourth round of last year’s French Open, when Alex Kenin also switched seats and plopped himself down right next to the coach of Sofia’s opponent (so much for social distancing amid a pandemic).

About a decade before Kenin was born, her parents moved from Moscow to New York City. Alex took English classes and went to computer school during the day; he drove for a car service at night. Then, just before their daughter was born, the family returned to Russia. Later, they went back to New York and eventually settled in Florida, which Kenin still calls home.

She had been as far as the fourth round only once at any Grand Slam tournament before collecting her first major championship in Australia last year. That was followed with a run the final at Roland Garros in October before losing to Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

Kenin has been going through a slower start to 2021, with a record of just 7-7 heading into the Italian Open next week on red clay. The French Open begins May 30.

In her first Grand Slam appearance as the defending champion, she lost in straight sets to Kaia Kanepi in the second round at Melbourne Park in February.

That began a stretch in which Kenin has lost five of her six most recent matches.

“I am excited for what the future holds and look forward to putting together a new technical team in the coming weeks ahead,” Kenin wrote. “I can’t wait to get back on the court next week in Rome.”

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

Getty Images
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.