MALLORCA, Spain -- No.7 seed Sofia Kenin of the United States moved into the Mallorca Open quarterfinals on Wednesday after Ons Jabeur of Tunisia retired during their match while Kenin was leading 6-2, 2-0.
"I felt pretty good on court," Kenin said, after the match. "It’s unfortunate that Jabeur had to retire, obviously I wasn’t expecting to win like that. But I’m overall happy with the way I played, and I stuck to the game plan really good."
World No.30 Kenin, who reached the semifinals in Mallorca last year, has hit a number of milestones in her singles career in 2019, winning her first WTA singles title at Hobart in January, and upsetting Serena Williams in her most recent tournament to advance to the fourth round at Roland Garros, her first second-week showing at a Grand Slam event.
"Obviously, it’s very different: on clay, you have to grind every point, here the ball just skids, and it’s not easy to adjust from clay to grass," Kenin said, when asked about the move from the clay-court swing to her first grass-court event of the season. "But I think I’m doing a good job overall, and I feel like grass is suiting my game."
The clash was mostly controlled by Kenin, and she was particularly stingy on serve, winning 85 percent of points on her first serve and never facing a break point. World No.63 Jabeur fired three aces early in the match but eventually was overcome by both the pinpoint play of Kenin and her injury. Jabeur retired after just 45 minutes of play.
Kenin will now take on No.4 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium in the quarterfinals. Mertens eliminated another of last year’s semifinalists, former US Open champion Samantha Stosur, in straight sets earlier on Wednesday. This will be the first meeting between the two Top 30 players.
At the start of the encounter, the players tried to find crosscourt angles to claim points, and it was Kenin who had the upper hand more often than not, epitomized by the crosscourt forehand winner she used to convert her third break point of the opening game. Kenin used the same shot to consolidate the break and take a 2-0 lead.
The American continued to try to outhit the forward-moving Jabeur, and that strategy paid off after a return winner on break point allowed Kenin to claim another the Tunisian’s next service game. Kenin extended her lead to 4-0 before Jabeur was able to get on the board with a service hold for 4-1.
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Kenin served for the set at 5-2 and fell behind 0-30 after Jabeur cracked a forehand winner, but the seventh seed reeled off three straight points from there to reach set point. A service winner closed out the opening frame in favor of the American.
Jabeur double faulted on break point to drop serve in the first game of the second set, and the Tunisian took a medical time-out immediately after that game, rubbing her shoulder while she waited for the trainer.
After receiving treatment, Jabeur gave one more game a go, taking the first point by returning a Kenin dropshot with a winning dropshot of her own. But errors by the Tunisian gave Kenin four straight points and the hold for 2-0, and after that game, Jabeur stopped the tilt.