“Big Toll”: Sofia Kenin Reveals Experience of Playing Without Crowd Ahead of Australian Open 2021




Quite in tune with the other top stars who are set to compete in the Australian Open this year, defending women’s singles champion Sofia Kenin is also kicked about the prospect of playing to a decent crowd at the Melbourne Park.

The sight of smiling and cheery faces in the stands at the exhibition ‘Day at the Drive’  event in Adelaide was met with welcome social media posts by former stars Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick.

Sofia Kenin says return of crowds to Australian Open exciting

The likes of Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, who played the Adelaide tune-up, were a relieved bunch, back knocking tennis in the presence of adoring and beaming fans in good voice.

In an interview to CNN, Kenin said she is aware how much a full house can fuel up a player straining every muscle for glory and put more miles in her legs.

The rising American star said that the importance of spectators was reinforced and reaffirmed more than ever when players had to play in front of empty stands due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenin said she belongs in a breed of players who thrive when cheered on by a noisy crowd.

She said that she tends to feed off the crowd and it helps her seize key moments in a match. The American added that the players simply can’t wait to be back among their fans again.

Sofia Kenin of the United States celebrates after winning her Women’s Singles Semifinal match against Ashleigh Barty of Australia on day eleven of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 30, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Kenin will be the defending champion at the Australian Open

Kenin said that playing in noiseless arenas through the better part of last year and the early part of this season has been tough on players, especially herself.

She added that playing to a full house, or even a decent scram of spectators again will be a blessing as it will give players a sense that an element of normality is finally returning to the sport.

“Everyone wanted to reconnect with them (fans) and somehow get life back to normal,” Kenin said.

Revealing how it was a challenge to be at her best without spectators, Kenin said, “…the whole year without any fans, it was a big toll I’m sure on everybody, especially on me.”

She said it will be exciting to see the stands filled and “some great energy coming from the fans”.

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The current World Number 4 got the better of two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza to clinch her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last year.