GUANGZHOU, China - No.3 seed Sofia Kenin was made to work in a late-night clash against Italian qualifier Jasmine Paolini, coming back from the brink in the first set to book her spot into the Guangzhou Open semifinals. 

“I’m feeling pretty great today,” Kenin told after the match. “She’s obviously a tough player, and I knew it was going to be a tough match against her. I played her in Rome, so I knew it’s not going to be the same score [of 6-1, 6-2]. She put in a really tough fight.

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“It was really hard to win that first set. So a lot of points, I had to just battle it out. And second, I felt like I really felt my game, and I took control of it.”

The last seed remaining in the draw, Kenin powered into the semifinals without dropping a set in Guangzhou, continuing the momentum she had built up in her breakthrough season. The 20-year-old has lifted trophies in Hobart and Mallorca and reached a final in Acapulco, and then posted back-to-back Premier semifinals in Cincinnati and Toronto. 

In Guangzhou, Kenin recorded identical 6-4, 6-2 scorelines against Laura Siegemund and qualifier Katarina Zavatska, dropping serve just three times across both matches. 

She found her biggest challenge of the week against Italian qualifier Paolini, who built up a daunting 2-5 lead in the opening set. But Kenin stayed calm to complete the turnaround, firing six aces and breaking five times to claim victory 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 15 minutes. 

“It’s [like 11:30 pm] right now, but I’m happy to be in the night match,” Kenin said. “It’s always exciting to play here, but it’s tough. I need to get some rest now, obviously, and get ready for tomorrow.”

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Having taken the last spot in the Guangzhou semifinals, Kenin will face Anna Blinkova as she seeks to make her fourth final of the year. Blinkova cruised past Marie Bouzkova 6-3, 6-1 earlier in the day to advance. 

“I’ve practiced with her a few times,” Kenin recalled. “She’s a solid player, she plays a flat game, so I’m going to try to use my game to match it up with her.”