Tennis: US OPEN

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Second seed Sofia Kenin has put a lacklustre U.S. Open tune-up behind her as the Australian Open champion showed on Thursday her game is firing on all cylinders as she marched into the U.S. Open third round.

Kenin, who lost in straight sets in her only warm-up event, rolled over Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 and suddenly looks every bit the player who won her maiden Grand Slam this year.

“I feel like I found a groove. I’m playing well in those two matches,” said Kenin. “Obviously, I wasn’t feeling great leading up to this event. I’m just trying to focus a bit more. I’m playing some really good tennis.”

It was a welcome return to form for Kenin who, having backed up her Australian Open title with a win in Lyon, was having the best season of her career before the tour’s five-month layoff due to the virus.

Using a mix of power and sharp angles, Kenin fired 19 winners and three aces against Fernandez, who made her main draw debut at the U.S. Open this week and was fresh off a win over 2010 New York finalist Vera Zvonareva.

American Kenin never faced a break point during the 81-minute contest and broke Fernandez three times, including in the final game when her opponent double-faulted on match point.

Up next for Kenin, who has never been past the third round in New York, will be 27th seed Ons Jabeur, who she beat in straight sets in the Australian Open quarter-final this year to improve to 4-1 in head-to-head meetings with the Tunisian.

“Feel like it’s going to be a bit tougher (this time) since she knows my game and she lost to me last time in Australia,” said Kenin who is the highest seed left in the women’s draw.

“I feel like I know her game well. It should be a good match.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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