Just two women remain in contention at the WTA Lyon Open. But will it be Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin or the comparatively unheralded Anna-Lena Friedsam who claims the title in southern France?
Lyon Open Final Prediction
Sofia Kenin vs Anna-Lena Friedsam
Head-to-head: first meeting
Kenin arrived at the Lyon Open a player in need of wins after a disappointing February in the wake of her Australian Open triumph. The American lost in the first round in both Dubai and Doha, although she did face tough draws in Elena Rybakina and Dayana Yastremska. Nonetheless, her 6-3 6-4 win over the unorthodox Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round in Lyon was surely a welcome return to winning ways for Kenin.
But if that win was comfortable enough for the world #5, she has been made to work hard since. The qualifier Jaqueline Cristian took the first set off her in the second round, with Kenin forced to save a match point en route to a hard-fought 5-7 7-6 6-4 win. In the quarterfinals, she was given another test by the Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin, but came through a 6-1 6-7 6-2 winner. Then, in what was surely her toughest match of the week, she edged out Alison Van Uytvanck, 7-6 6-7 7-6, in the last four.
Friedsam, meanwhile, has enjoyed what must be considered one of the finest weeks of her career. She opened her campaign with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 win over Russia’s Anastasiya Komardina. She backed that up by upsetting second seed Kristina Mladenovic for the loss of just six games, before battling past Viktoria Kuzmova, seeded eighth, from a set down to reach the semifinals. There she edged out Daria Kasatkina, 6-3 3-6 6-2, in a seesawing affair.
Kenin has not yet played her very best tennis so far at the Lyon Open. But she has been able to dig out wins, relying as much on her tactical awareness and versatility as the quality of her stroke production. That suggests that the in-form Friedsam will be able to keep it close. She has looked comfortable playing on the front foot all week, keeping her opponents off-balance with some aggressive ball-striking and good variety, particularly off the backhand side.
But Kenin has shown throughout her fledgling career that she can find a way to win even with her back up against the wall. And when the pressure is on, with this match presenting Friedsam with the chance not only to win her first WTA title but also to beat a reigning Grand Slam champion, the German may find it that much harder to execute. Expect a close contest, but for Kenin to claim a narrow win and her second title of the season.
Prediction: Kenin in 3
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