Saturday, January 12, 2019

Berkeley champion Kenin earns first WTA singles title

Sofia Kenin, playing in Berkeley last July, routed Anna Karo-
lina Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-0 today to win the Hobart (Australia)
International. Photo by Paul Bauman
   You might say Sofia Kenin is in good form entering the Australian Open.
   Ditto for Ben McLachlan.
   One week after claiming her first WTA doubles title, Kenin did the same in singles.
   The 20-year-old American routed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-0 in 71 minutes today to win the Hobart (Australia) International.
    McLachlan, a 26-year-old former Cal star, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany beat third-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-3, 6-4 to capture the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Struff reached the Australian Open semifinals last year in their first tournament together.
   In the Auckland singles final, unseeded Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., topped wild card Cameron Norrie, a New Zealand product who plays for Great Britain, 6-4, 6-2.
   Sandgren, a surprise quarterfinalist in last year's Australian Open, avenged a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Norrie in the final of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in 2017. The left-handed Norrie also won the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger the following week, beating Darian King of Barbados.
   Kenin reeled off the last nine games against Schmiedlova in a matchup of unseeded players to become the first American champion in Tasmania since Amy Frazier in 2004. Kenin and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada won last week's women's ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   "I feel in great form, and I'm really proud of myself," Kenin, who won the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge last July for her third title in Northern California in three years, told reporters. "I'm so happy with my start and will try to keep the momentum going."
   Kenin did not lose a set in the tournament, upsetting top-seeded Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-2 in the first round, seventh-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 7-5, 7-5 in the quarterfinals and sixth-seeded Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals.
   Kenin also dismissed Garcia 6-3, 6-3 on grass in Mallorca in June for her first victory over a top-10 player and her first berth in a WTA semifinal.
   Kenin will make her top-40 debut on Monday, jumping from No. 56 to No. 37. She is scheduled to play Veronika Kudermetova, a 21-year-old Russian qualifier, in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday (California time). Kenin was born in Moscow and moved to the United States as a young child.
   It will be Kenin's second main-draw appearance in Melbourne. She lost to 12th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round last year.

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