NEW YORK, NY, USA -- No.2 seed Sofia Kenin of the United States eased into the second round of the US Open on Tuesday afternoon, dispatching Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, 6-2, 6-2.
Playing her first match at a major event since she won her maiden Grand Slam title at this year’s Australian Open, World No.4 Kenin was extremely efficient as she swept to victory over her 146th-ranked opponent in 67 minutes.
"Of course, I think it's a really good win, good boost for my confidence," Kenin said, during her post-match press conference. "I played really well. I focused on my key elements of the game."
In their sole previous meeting at the WTA 125K Series event in Indian Wells in 2018, Wickmayer had defeated Kenin in straight sets. However, the newly-minted Grand Slam champion quickly exacted revenge on Louis Armstrong Stadium, firing 33 winners to just 15 unforced errors and saving all five break points she faced.
"Honestly, winning the first game [today], it was close," said Kenin. "Just really happy to have gotten that. Then serving, I was up 2-0, I was, like, 'Okay, I really feel my serve, I'm feeling the game.' [Wickmayer's] got a big serve, so I felt it right from the beginning, and I'm just really proud of myself."
Former Top 20 player Wickmayer was one of the last women to receive entry into the main draw, but the Belgian has had past success at the US Open, reaching the semifinals in 2009. Against Kenin, though, Wickmayer lost each of the four break points she faced on the day, as she failed to notch the sixth Top 10 win of her career.
Next up for Kenin will be a second-round clash against rapidly rising Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, who defeated 2010 US Open finalist Vera Zvonareva of Russia in straight sets in their first-round tilt on Tuesday.
"I have practiced [with Fernandez] a few times, so I kind of know her game more or less," Kenin stated. "She is a young rising star, playing some really good tennis...It's going to be a good matchup, and hopefully I can do well."
Wickmayer opened the match with an ace and held game point right away, but it slipped out of her grasp as Kenin burrowed her way into the encounter, eventually blasting a backhand winner crosscourt to earn break point. There, the American busted open a rally with a forehand crosscourt passing shot, and Kenin had already made her mark with a swift break.
The Belgian held three break points to get back on serve at 2-2, but twice with a crosscourt forehand winner and once with a dropshot, Kenin fended each chance off as she gutted out a hold for 3-1. Another long game followed, and once again the American came out on top as she broke once more for 4-1, sealing that game with a pointed return winner.
Wickmayer used booming serves to notch another game and pull to 5-2, but Kenin was undeterred as she wrapped up a service hold at love to take the opener.
It was more of the same in the second set, as the American shot another divine return winner to break the Belgian in the very first game again. The carbon copy of the first set eerily persisted, as Wickmayer held break point to get back on serve at 2-2, but Kenin erased that chance with a putaway winner, eventually holding with an ace for 3-1.
The second set continued to match the first, as Wickmayer again struggled on serve at 3-1, this time hitting two double faults in succession to give Kenin double break point. The American deployed another deft dropshot winner to convert the first, and claimed the 4-1 advantage.
Wickmayer again had an easy hold for 5-2, and even got to 30-30 in the next game while Kenin was serving for the match. But the American was not to be denied, and after two consecutive missed service returns from Wickmayer, the second seed found herself safely in the second round.