Monday, January 27, 2020

Kenin, closing in on top 10, to face No. 1 Barty in semis

Sofia Kenin, shown in the semifinals of the 2018 Berkeley
(Calif.) Challenger en route to the title, has reached her
first Grand Slam semifinal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Sofia Kenin, who starred in Northern California Challengers, is on the verge of cracking the top 10 after reaching the Australian Open semifinals.
   The 21-year-old American, seeded 14th, beat unseeded Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4, 6-4 today in Melbourne. Both players were competing in their first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Kenin, who was born in Moscow but moved to the United States as a young child, will rise at least four spots to No. 11.  She won NorCal Challenger singles titles in three consecutive years – Sacramento in 2016 at age 17, Stockton and Berkeley.
   Kenin hasn't played a seed in the tournament, but now she faces a huge challenge against top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty, who won the French Open last year for her only Grand Slam singles title, beat seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (6), 6-2.
   Kvitova, a 29-year-old left-hander, won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 and reached last year's Australian Open final, losing to Naomi Osaka. That was Kvitova's first major final since she suffered career-threatening cuts to her left hand in a December 2016 home invasion.
   Barty, 23, is 4-1 against Kenin, including 3-1 last year and 2-1 on hardcourts. However, most of the pressure will be on Barty as the favorite trying to become the first Australian woman to win in Melbourne since Chris O'Neil in 1978. Kenin, meanwhile, seeks her first Grand Slam final.
   In the second round of Australian Open boys singles, it was Mayot against Mayo. Top-seeded Harold Mayot of France dismissed Aidan Mayo, who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, 6-2, 6-3 in 64 minutes.

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