NEW YORK (Reuters) – Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin produced a dominant display to dispatch Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-2 6-2 in the opening round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
American Kenin finished with 33 winners to just 15 unforced errors, saving all five break points she faced.
Having lost her first match back following the COVID-19 hiatus at the Western and Southern Open last week, Kenin was happy to get back to winning ways with an authoritative display.
“I knew I could dominate her,” world number four Kenin said. “Today I felt like I couldn’t miss a ball. I played really good tennis and I’m proud of myself.”
Kenin, who won her maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne in February, broke her opponent in the first game to set the tone for the match.
Wickmayer, the 2009 semi-finalist in New York, held three break points to draw level at 2-2 but second seed Kenin fended off each of those with a string of booming forehands.
The 21-year-old Kenin broke once more to take control of the match before holding to love to take the opening set in just 37 minutes.
Kenin started the second set just like the first to take an early lead as Wickmayer increasingly struggled with her service rhythm.
The Belgian dished out two double faults, allowing Kenin to convert her fourth break point opportunity of the match on her way to a convincing victory.
Kenin, the only reigning Grand Slam champion in the women’s singles draw after Ash Barty (French Open holder), Simona Halep (Wimbledon) and Bianca Andreescu (U.S. Open) opted out of travelling to New York because of the coronavirus pandemic, is hoping to mount another title charge in New York, where she has never progressed beyond the third round.
“I feel like coming off after winning Aussie, definitely did a lot for my confidence,” Kenin said. “I tried to not feel so much pressure, but I just handled the situation really well.
“I feel like I just play my best tennis here. It’s unfortunate the fans are not here, but I just try to do the best I can under the circumstances.”
The Open is being played without any fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed almost 190,000 lives in the United States.
Second seed Kenin will next face Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, who defeated Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-4 7-5.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)