After Sofia Kenin dropped the opening set in the French Open’s fourth round on Monday, her father, Alexander, who is also her coach, switched seats in the stands, plopping himself down right next to her opponent’s coach.
Whether the elder Kenin’s move, so noticeable in the sea of empty beige seats at Court Philippe Chatrier, actually influenced the outcome cannot be known — the chair umpire did give a warning for coaching, which is not allowed during Grand Slam matches; the Australian Open champion said that her father merely helped by “motivating” — things did turn around soon afterward.
Never before a quarter-finalist at any tour-level clay-court tournament, Kenin reached that stage at Roland Garros by making a key adjustment, taking balls sooner and leaving Fiona Ferro less time to operate in the 21-year-old American’s 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over the last player from France in either singles bracket.
“First of all, I mean, I don’t know, like, why her coach sat in that section,” said Kenin, who is seeded No. 4, while the 49th-ranked Ferro was unseeded. “On the right, it’s [for] the higher seed. I would imagine that he would be sitting on the other side. I didn’t really understand why he was sitting there.”
“Yeah, I mean, my dad sat there. He tried to help me... I mean, he just sat there — and it worked,” she said. “There’s nothing much to discuss about that.”
Emmanuel Planque, Ferro’s coach, said: “At the end of the match, he told me: ‘You didn’t manage to get rid of Sofia, but I couldn’t get rid of her dad.’”
“This used to be a surface that I really don’t like,” said Kenin, who wiped away tears with a towel at match’s end. “Now it’s obviously a surface that I really enjoy playing on.”
She was to play Danielle Collins — who beat Ons Jabeur 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 yesterday — in the quarter-finals after press time last night.
The other quarter-final in that half of the draw was the first played yesterday, with Nadia Podoroska defeating Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4.
The other two quarter-finals were to be Iga Swiatek against Martina Trevisan and Petra Kvitova facing Laura Siegemund, with those matches beginning after press time last night.
In the men’s singles on Monday, Novak Djokovic defeated Karen Khachanov in straight sets to make the French Open quarter-finals for the 11th consecutive year.
Djokovic won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 against Russian 15th seed Khachanov to draw level with Rafael Nadal on a record 14 quarter-final appearances in Paris.
Djokovic faced his toughest assignment so far but Khachanov was unable to derail his bid to become the first man in half a century to win all four Grand Slam titles twice.
The world No. 1 was to play Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the last four after the Spaniard swept German qualifier Daniel Altmaier aside in three sets.
Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame an eye problem to become the first Greek man to reach the last eight of the French Open with a 6-3, 7-6 (11/9), 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov.
The 22-year-old was to play Andrey Rublev.
Rublev, the 13th seed, also advanced to the quarter-finals for the first time after battling past Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
In the third round of the women’s doubles, Nicole Melichar and Iga Swiatek defeated Kveta Peschke and Demi Schuurs 6-3, 6-4, while Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova beat Kristyna Pliskova and Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-2.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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