Wimbledon 2023: Sofia Kenin upsets Coco Gauff in opening round
Sofia Kenin showed the elite form that helped her win the Australian Open title and reach a career-high of world No. 4 in 2020 to score a statement win on Monday at Wimbledon.
The 24-year-old American, who also reached the Roland Garros final in 2020, notched her first Grand Slam main-draw win since 2021 with a victory against countrywoman and No. 7 seed Coco Gauff. Kenin claimed the matchup of Billie Jean King Cup teammates, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, to continue her run in London after battling through qualifying to reach the main event.
"This means a lot," said Kenin, who entered the major at No. 128 in the WTA singles rankings. "I feel like this year has been not necessarily lows, but I feel like it's a comeback year for me. I feel like I started off the year well, I was playing well. I had a good feeling that this year would be a good year for me."
Kenin now leads Gauff 2-1 in their head-to-head series. She beat Gauff en route to her 2020 AO title, before Gauff won in Auckland on the way to the ASB Classic crown. If that pattern holds, there could be more Grand Slam glory in Kenin's future.
The Wimbledon win, Kenin's 10th against a Top 10 opponent, was not the American's first big upset this season. She also knocked out world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in Rome this May — a result that stood as her most recent tour-level win until Monday's result.
"I knew that with three wins under her belt from qualies, I knew she was going to be playing with confidence," Gauff said of her opponent, who did not drop a set in three qualifying wins."
"It's always possible for somebody to get back to that level," she continued. "She's still on the younger end of her career. I think with how she played today, it shouldn't be too long."
Through to the second round for the fourth time in four appearances at the All England Club, Kenin will seek to advance to the third round for the first time when she takes on China's Wang Xinyu on Wednesday.
In men's singles, Michael Mmoh scored an upset win of his own on Monday against 11th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. After a five-set loss in the final round of qualifying, Mmoh was granted new life as a lucky loser and did not waste the opportunity.
The 25-year-old knocked off the Canadian 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-4, to claim his first Wimbledon main-draw win.
It's not the first time this year Mmoh has made the most of some good fortune at a Grand Slam: At the Australian Open, he knocked off 13th seed Alexander Zverev as a lucky loser to reach the third round at a major for the first time. There, he also beat France's Laurent Lokoli, the same man who beat him at Wimbledon qualifying.
Adding to the sense of familiarity was the fate of Auger-Aliassime. For the second straight year at Wimbledon, the Canadian was beaten by an American in Round 1. Last year, Maxime Cressy did the honors with a strikingly similar 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(9), 7-6(5) win.
Jessica Pegula, Alycia Parks and J.J. Wolf also advanced with Monday wins. The fourth-seeded Pegula won an all-American matchup against Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-7(8), 6-3; Parks downed Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6-4, 6-3; and Wolf beat Enzo Couacaud, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(4) in his Wimbledon debut. Pegula's effort was particularly hard-fought: She failed to convert three match points in the second set before regrouping to win in a decider.
"I felt good going into the third [set], even though I had match points in the second," Pegula said. "I mean, she's a really tough player, she played some incredible points. I think she's a really good grass-court player as well. When she gets hot, it's really tough. Her ball skids really low through the court. I just kept my focus, didn't get too frustrated, and was able to just pull it out."
Rain halted the entirety of outdoor play on Tuesday, leaving many of the first-round matches unfinished and forcing opening-round action to extend to three days. Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Madison Keys are among the other Americans aiming to get off the mark with opening wins on the London lawns.
For more from Wimbledon, visit the tournament's official website.