Fixture: (4) Sofia Kenin vs Irina Bara
Date: 3 October 2020
Tournament: Roland Garros 2020
Round: Third Round (Round of 32)
Venue: Paris, France
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: Approx. €38,000,000
Match timing: Approx. 2 pm CEST, 5.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - NBC / Tennis Channel | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Sofia Kenin vs Irina Bara preview
Kenin's performances on the tour resumption haven't been as great as those in the first two months of the season, but she has shown plenty of fighting spirit. The 21-year-old has been struggling over the last couple of months, with her best performance being a Round of 16 appearance at the US Open.
That has been reflected in the World No. 6's Roland Garros journey so far too, as she needed three sets to win each of her matches against Liudmila Samsonova and Ana Bogdan. But even though we haven't seen the cleanest ball-striking from Kenin, the Moscow-born American has willed herself to win every time, showing the quality of a champion.
Irina Bara, meanwhile, had never played a Grand Slam main draw match before Roland Garros 2020. In the first round this year she played a very clean match to upset the 26th seed Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4. The 142nd-ranked Romanian then made her way into the third round when former French Open quarter-finalist Alison Van Uytvanck retired with Bara leading 6-1, 4-0.
For someone who plies her trade mostly on the ITF circuit, this has been a very encouraging show.
Bara, whose highest ranking has been 139, had her best performance of the season at an ITF $80,000 event in France - where she lost the final to top seed Sara Sorribes Tormo. Her only other noteworthy display came at the WTA International event in Lyon, where she won three matches from qualifying to reach the Round of 16.
With a Grand Slam breakthrough coming after such a long wait, the 25-year-old would be desperately looking to use this as a springboard for bigger achievements in the future.
Sofia Kenin vs Irina Bara head-to-head
Sofia Kenin holds the upper hand in this rivalry with a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head record. Their sole meeting so far happened at the 2018 Harlee's Pro Classic in Dothan, USA on the ITF women's circuit. A young Kenin needed three sets to see off Irina Bara, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Sofia Kenin vs Irina Bara prediction
In terms of rankings and experience of playing on the big stage, Sofia Kenin has a healthy edge over Irina Bara. Not only does Kenin possess the ability to hit through the court, she also has exceptional touch and finesse - something she displayed time and again in her last match against Ana Bogdan.
Kenin will keep relentlessly going for drop shots whenever she finds her opponent pinned to the baseline. And Bara, who is known for hitting topspin groundstrokes from the baseline, certainly won't enjoy that.
But Kenin isn't infallible on this surface, especially when she loses her patience and tries to rush through the points. That is when Bara could sniff her chance of making a mark and extending one of the sets.
Prediction: Sofia Kenin to win in two tight sets.