Abu Dhabi Open: Sofia Kenin fights back to beat Yulia Putintseva; Maria Sakkari, Elina Svitolina through to quarters

Kenin posted 57 unforced errors to Putintseva's 43 but still prevailed 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 over the 13th-seeded Putintseva.

The Associated Press January 10, 2021 23:56:44 IST
Abu Dhabi Open: Sofia Kenin fights back to beat Yulia Putintseva; Maria Sakkari, Elina Svitolina through to quarters

File image of Sofia Kenin. AP

Abu Dhabi: Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin of the United States came back from match point down to beat Yulia Putintseva and reach the quarter-finals of the Abu Dhabi Open on Sunday.

Kenin posted 57 unforced errors to Putintseva's 43 but still prevailed 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 over the 13th-seeded Putintseva.

“I felt like today was more of a mental match. I practice with her quite a lot so I know her game well," Kenin said. “I'm just happy with the way that I fought even though I wasn't feeling 100% on court."

Kenin dropped the opening set for the second consecutive match in Abu Dhabi. Putintseva had match point when serving at 6-5 up in the second set, but Kenin saved the point and broke Putintseva's serve to take the set to a tiebreak.

"I practice with her (Putintseva) quite a bit, and I know her game well, and she knows my game pretty well," Kenin said during her post-match press conference.

"I guess it helps being a Grand Slam champion, knowing kind of what to do on those tough points, those tough moments, and I was able to find my rhythm by the end of the third set."

Next up is a quarter-final match with ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari, who beat former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 6-4, posting 33 winners to five for the more defensive Muguruza. Kenin won her two previous matches against Sakkari, both in three sets in 2018.

Also, Elina Svitolina saved two match points in a final-set tiebreak to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (8) for a place in the quarter-finals. The second-seeded Ukrainian faces another Russian opponent, Veronika Kudermetova, in the next round.

“I was just trying to be focused on every point and not let this match take away the good tennis that I played in the first set,” Svitolina said.

Aryna Sabalenka recorded her 12th consecutive win in tour matches with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Ons Jabeur. The fourth-seeded Sabalenka earned a measure of revenge for her defeat to Jabeur in their only previous match in the third round of the French Open in October.

“I didn't give her any time to play, to make her trick shots,” Sabalenka said. “At Roland Garros, the courts were really slow and she had time and it was really tricky tennis. I think this was the key to today's win.”

Sabalenka has won every match she's played since the loss to Jabeur at Roland Garros, and finished last season with titles at the indoor Ostrava and Linz tournaments.

The win over Jabeur sets up a quarter-final match against sixth-seeded Elena Rybakina, who beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-4 in their third-round match.

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