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Sofia Kenin stun Aryna Sabalenka in Rome

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Sofia Kenin
Sofia Kenin stun Aryna Sabalenka in Rome. Photo/ Tennis Majors.
  • Aryna Sabalenka was knocked out of the Italian Open by American Sofia Kenin in a high-octane second-round match
  • Kenin beat Sabalenka 7-6 6-2 and her next opponent is Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina, who beat Anna Blinkova 6-2 6-2 earlier on Thursday, May 11

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka was knocked out of the Italian Open by American Sofia Kenin in a high-octane second-round match.

Kenin beat Sabalenka 7-6 6-2 days after the Australian Open champion stunned Iga Swiatek in Madrid Open. Kenin’s next opponent is Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina, who beat Anna Blinkova 6-2 6-2 earlier on Thursday, May 11.

Sofia Kenin

Sofia Kenin beat Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 6-2 in a high-octane second-round match on Thursday, May 11. Photo/ Tennis Majors.

Prior to facing Aryna Sabalenka, Kenin had edged out Spaniard Cristina Bucsa (6-3, 6-7 (8), 7-5). Speaking after her victory against Sabalenka, 134-ranked Sofia Kenin said she was proud of her performance against the Madrid Open champion.

“I’m super happy. It was a really tough match and she’s played some great tennis, so I’m super proud of myself. I had to bring my best tennis in order to win but I felt that I served well, and returned well. I brought my good game so that’s why I won.” Eurosport quotes the former world No. 4.

Sabalenka wobbled on serve early in her first match since claiming the Madrid title and squandered three chances to break Kenin. However, she later found her groove to level a pulsating opening set at 4-4. The players traded breaks again to set up a tiebreak where Kenin overpowered Sabalenka to grab the early advantage following an unforced error.

Kenin, who is currently ranked 134th due to illness and injuries, put pressure on her opponent in the second set to take a 4-2 lead. She then held onto her lead firmly to claim the set 6-2.

For Sabalenka, this was her first loss before the quarter-final stage of any event this season. The 25-year-old boasts a tour-leading record of 29 wins. Sabalenka suggested that she was low on energy and needed to recharge her batteries to return strongly.

“Exhausted. Definitely need some recharge.” Aryna Sabalenka tweeted after being knocked out of the Italian Open.

For Sofia Kenin, it was her first victory over a top-two opponent having defeated the then world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty en route to the Australian Open title in 2020. It was also her first win over a top-10 opponent in more than three years.

Meanwhile, third seed Jessica Pegula was also knocked out of the Italian Open after losing 6-2 3-6 6-3 to fellow American Taylor Townsend.

Townsend, once a junior prodigy, is now on the comeback trail after maternity leave. She is currently ranked No. 168 and had to go through qualifying.

Taylor Townsend

Jessica Pegula lost 6-2 3-6 6-3 to fellow American Taylor Townsend. Photo/ Tennis Majors.

Speaking after her victory, Townsend said she is proud of herself considering she has been working very hard to make a comeback in tennis.

“I’m just really proud of myself. I’ve been working really hard over the past couple of years to come back. Moments like these are what it’s all about.” ESPN quotes Townsend.

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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