Have you ever seen two rival coaches sitting right next to each other at a grand slam?
You have now.
There were strange scenes at the French Open on Monday when Sofia Kenin’s father and coach Alexander decided to switch seats after she lost the first set.
A fair enough decision, except he decided to plonk himself in the seat right next to the coach of Kenin’s opponent Fiona Ferro.
So much for social-distancing amid a pandemic.
The coaches, Planque and Kenin, sitting side by side.— Ravi Ubha (@raviubha) October 5, 2020
Pic: Eurosport pic.twitter.com/Q1Pgkr1Knt
Whether the elder Kenin’s move, so noticeable in the sea of empty beige seats at Court Philippe Chatrier, actually influenced the outcome can’t be known with any certainty, but things did turn around soon afterward.
The chair umpire did give Kenin a warning for coaching, which isn’t allowed during grand slam matches, however the 2020 Australian Open champion said her dad merely helped by “motivating.”
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 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.
Discussing the coaching squabble after the match, Kenin claimed it was Ferro’s coach who was actually in the wrong area.
“First of all, I mean, I don’t know, like, why HER coach sat in that section,” said Kenin, the No.4 seed.
“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. There's nothing much to discuss about that.”
As for Ferro’s coach Emmanuel Planque, he told his player after the match: “You didn't manage to get rid of Sofia, but I couldn't get rid of her dad.”
TV shots of the rival coaches sitting side-by-side baffled tennis fans and commentators.
Tennis.com said it was: “Uncouth under normal circumstances and potentially reckless during a pandemic.”
Uncouth under normal circumstances, and potentially reckless during a pandemic, Sofia Kenin's coach, her dad Alex, gets up from his seat and sits...right next to Fiona Ferro's coach, Emmanuel Planque.— TENNIS (@Tennis) October 5, 2020
It's an odd look, but the Kenins are now in a 3rd set. https://t.co/b6rL32wM9p pic.twitter.com/OYWCQbEBro
In a stadium with thousands of empty seats, Sofia Kenin’s dad completely disregarded all the rules of social distancing and sat right next to Ferro’s coach. So this is something pic.twitter.com/tySB5gvrDf— D'Arcy Maine (@darcymaine_espn) October 5, 2020
How TF are they going to let Sofia Kenin dad just move by the other players coach??? This isn't High School JV tennis match. #FrenchOpen2020— _______________ (@DuffleBagBoy11) October 5, 2020
Sofia Kenin's dad moving from his seat in a relatively empty stadium to sit right next to Fiona Ferro's coach (in a pandemic) is one heck of a move. 👀— Blair Henley (@BlairHenley) October 5, 2020
Clearly, Sofia Kenin's dad moving to sit right next to Ferro's coach is to intimidate him to not to illegally coach her.... Or perhaps he suspects that is happening or could happen....at least that is what my gut tells me....— Randy Walker (@TennisPublisher) October 5, 2020
Sofia Kenin continues brilliant play in Paris
A year ago in Paris, Kenin signalled to the world what she was capable of, upsetting Serena Williams in the third round.
“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 needed to wait a day to find out who she'll play next, because the match between No. 30 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia and Danielle Collins of the US, scheduled for open-air Suzanne Lenglen Court, was postponed by rain.
The other quarter-final in that half of the draw will be two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova against Laura Siegemund.
with Associated Press
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