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Macci says ‘real deal’ Kenin can win ‘double figures’ grand slams

Rick Macci says Sofia Kenin told him before she flew out to the Australian Open that she is heading to the top of the rankings.

New Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin can end her career with a double-figure grand-slam haul and will be world number one “by summer”.

That is according to renowned coach Rick Macci, who was taken aback by Kenin’s skill and mentality when the American sensation had her first lesson with him at the age of five.

Macci, who has also coached the likes of Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Jennifer Capriati, knew Kenin was destined for greatness as he continued to nurture her talents until she was 12.

So there were no eyebrows raised from the Ohio native when the 21-year-old beat Garbine Muguruza to claim her maiden major title at Melbourne Park last Saturday, and he is in no doubt it will prove the first of many for the world number seven.

Macci told Omnisport: “I’d say by summer she’ll be on top of the rankings, it’s right around the corner.

“She’ll be in the top five or 10 for the next 10 years, she’s not going anywhere because when you show up to play, she’s always going to be there.

“People don’t understand what they are looking at, I can see her winning double figures grand slams, she might get 15 before she’s done.

“She’s the real deal, this is [Martina] Hingis, [Simona] Halep but with a tremendous mental strength that doesn’t blink. She expected to win the final [against Muguruza], her father [and coach, Alex] did and I did.”

Macci says there is no chance the Russia-born prodigy will become too embraced in off-court distractions with her new-found name.

He said: “That will never happen, this is a different animal. She is no one-hit wonder, there is so much stability, structure and focus inside this girl.

“She was at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy in Boca Raton [Florida] before they went to Australia getting a massage. I said, ‘So what’s the game plan?’. She looked at me and said, ‘To be number one in the world’.

“It was not in an arrogant way, but in a matter of fact. You can say that, but she has the goods to back it up.

“She’s shown you don’t have to be six feet tall, you don’t need a huge serve or to have tremendous power. If you understand the geometry of the court, you take the ball early and it’s a game of inches from one ear to the other.

“This girl, her mental strength is unsurpassed and she’s a great role model.”

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