WTA: Sofia Kenin upsets Ons Jabeur in Rome

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Sofia Kenin added her growing record of success at Foro Italico by toppling No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in the Round of 64 of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Friday in Rome.

The 25-year-old American upset Belarusian star Aryna Sabalenka in Italy last year. Kenin notched her sixth win in the main draw in Rome, her best total at any WTA 1000 event.

“I love the surface, the courts here,” Kenin told reporters. “I feel like they’re slow, which suits my (favorite) conditions. There’s no altitude (like Madrid), which I love. I feel like I’m very comfortable here.”

Kenin won despite having five double faults without an ace, while Jabeur fired nine aces past her. Kenin was especially successful once she got Jabeur to her second serve, winning 60.4 percent of her second-return points (32 of 53).

“I’m feeling great, happy with the way I played,” the former World No. 4 said. “Definitely, I feel like I’ve come a long way. It’s going in the right direction. I feel like the hard work is paying off. The fact that I’m still fighting.”

Sabalenka, the tournament’s second seed, had a scare of her own Friday but came out on the other side. She defeated American Katie Volynets 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, saving 11 of 16 break points along the way.

“Honestly, for someone who has been sick for four days and couldn’t get out of bed I think I played really quite well,” Sabalenka explained. “In the first set I just didn’t feel my tennis at all, I couldn’t feel the rhythm. Just different conditions. So in the second set I said whatever, just do your best with what you have today.”

No. 5 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece skated past France’s Varvara Gracheva 6-2, 6-2, and Latvian ninth seed Jelena Ostapenko defeated Russian Anastasia Potapova 6-4, 6-2.

Three matches ended in retirement. No. 13 seed Danielle Collins won her first set 6-4 before Russian opponent Anna Blinkova injured her ankle in the first game of the second set and couldn’t continue. No. 30 seed Anhelina Kalinina was up 2-0 on Ukrainian countrywoman Lesia Tsurenko when Tsurenko retired. And Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania led 5-2 when France’s Oceane Dodin retired.

Also victorious Friday were No. 16 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, No. 22 seed Caroline Garcia of France, No. 23 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia, No. 24 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, No. 27 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium, No. 32 Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, Rebecca Sramkova of Slovakia and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.

One late match still in progress pitted Italian 11th seed Jasmine Paolini against Egyptian Mayar Sherif.

–Field Level Media

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