SAN JOSE, CA, USA - American teenager Sofia Kenin gave the home crowd something to cheer about on the first day at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, as she defeated Paraguayan qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg, 6-4, 6-4 to move through to the second round.
After compatriot Christina McHale fell to Maria Sakkari in the first main draw match on Monday morning, Kenin pulled the American contingent to .500 for the day's play with a victory in just over 90 minutes.
"She started off strong in the first set...but I knew I just had to fight. I was, and it paid off," Kenin said on-court after the match.
[The key was] keeping the ball deep, and whenever I got a chance, I tried to take control. She's tough to play, and our rallies were, like, 10 balls all the time."
Despite nearly 60 places between the two in the WTA rankings, it was the higher-ranked Kenin who needed to rally from behind in the opening set to score a victory in her San Jose debut.
The 19-year-old lost the first three games of the match, and saved a break point to go down 4-0, before finally getting on the board.
Later, when she dropped serve a second time in the sixth game, she steadied herself to not only immediately get back on serve, but win the final four games of the set.
After an opener which saw five combined breaks, the second set was much tidier for both players behind their deliveries.
Cepede Royg saved two break points in the fifth game, the lone chances either player created in their first four efforts on return, but ultimately was not able to hold off the World No.68 for much longer.
Back-to-back double faults from the Paraguayan set her behind in a key ninth game, in which the American broke to love, as Kenin wrapped up the match by winning 10 of the last 11 points.
The teenager's reward for her win will be a second-round clash with the winner of the marquee opening encounter between two former champions: No.6 seed Serena Williams and Great Britain's Johanna Konta.
"I'm going to watch and see how to play. It's a great experience for me," she said. "I'm really happy to have won, and to have this chance to play them."