Thursday, September 17, 2020

Azarenka annihilates Kenin 6-0, 6-0 in Italian Open

Victoria Azarenka crushed third-seeded Sofia Kenin 6-0, 6-0
in 61 minutes today in the second round of the Italian Open
in Rome. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   With the French Open 10 days away, Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin are heading in opposite directions.
   In a clash of past or present Australian Open champions, the unseeded Azarenka blitzed the third-seeded Kenin 6-0, 6-0 in 61 minutes today in the second round of the Italian Open in Rome.
   Azarenka, the Australian Open champion in 2012 and 2013, did not face a break point. Kenin, who stormed to her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne early this year, still seeks her first WTA quarterfinal on clay.
   Azarenka has won 14 of her last 15 matches, losing to Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open final, after going 0-3 since August 2019.
   Kenin, who received a first-round bye, suffered her second consecutive one-sided loss. Seeded second in the U.S. Open, the 21-year-old American fell to 16th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round. 
   The week before the U.S. Open, Kenin lost her opener in the Western & Southern Open at the same site in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., to then-No. 60 Alize Cornet of France.
   Azarenka, 31, of Belarus and Kenin have had great success in Northern California at different levels.
   In the now-defunct Bank of the West Classic at Stanford on the WTA Tour, Azarenka won the 2010 singles title and the 2011 doubles crown with Maria Kirilenko of Russia. Azarenka also reached the doubles final at Stanford in 2007 with Anna Chakvetadze of Russia.
   Kenin captured NorCal Challengers in 2016 at 17, 2017 and 2018.
   Azarenka is scheduled to play qualifier Daria Kasatkina of Russia on Friday for a quarterfinal berth. Kasatkina, who has slumped from a career-high No. 10 in 2018 to No. 74, dispatched Katerina Siniakova, formerly ranked No. 1 in doubles, 6-2, 6-3.
   Kasatkina, 23, also coasted past compatriot Vera Zvonareva, a 36-year-old wild card who climbed as high as No. 2 in 2010, 6-2, 6-2 in the opening round.
   Also falling today were fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, eighth-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia and 14th-seeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. 
   Polona Hercog of Slovenia topped Bertens, an Italian Open semifinalist last year and in 2017, 6-4, 6-4. Bertens played her first official match since February after skipping the U.S. Open because of coronavirus concerns.
   Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist, outlasted Martic 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4, and Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 35-year-old Russian and two-time Italian Open runner-up, stopped Kontaveit 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. 
   Ninth-seeded Garbine Muguruza, a Rome semifinalist in 2016 and 2017, eliminated 16-year-old U.S. sensation Coco Gauff 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3.
   Four seeds also lost on the men's side: No. 5 Gael Monfils of France, No. 7 Fabio Fognini of Italy, No. No. 9 Andrey Rublev of Russia and No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada.
   German qualifier Dominik Koepfer, the runner-up in last year's Aptos, Calif., Challenger, downed Monfils, playing his first match since February, 6-2, 6-4. Koepfer, a 26-year-old left-hander, will meet 18-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, guaranteeing that a qualifier will reach the quarterfinals.
   Musetti, who stunned three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the first round, beat Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 6-4. Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up to Marin Cilic, had right elbow surgery last October. 
   Ugo Humbert, a 22-year-old left-hander from France, knocked off Fognini, who had arthroscopic surgery on both ankles on May 30,  7-5, 7-6 (4).
   Hubert Hurkacz, 23, of Poland took out Rublev, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-2, and Dusan Lajovic of Serbia beat Raonic, the runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the Western & Southern Open, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-2.
   In the second round of men's doubles, 40-year-old Rohan Bopanna of India and Denis Shapovalov of Canada ousted top seeds and two-time defending champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia 6-3, 3-6 [10-5]. Bopanna reached the 2013 Italian Open final with countryman Mahesh Bhupathi.

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