NEW YORK, NY, USA - Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin is through to the fourth round of the US Open for the first time after a straight sets win over the tricky Ons Jabeur on Saturday night.
No.2 seed Kenin had to weather a barrage of 35 winners coming from the Tunisian’s racquet, but she stayed solid to break Jabeur’s serve three times and fire 13 winners of her own, fighting her way to a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory.
“It was very physical. We moved a lot. It was long points,” Kenin said in her post-match press conference. “I feel like both of us were quite tired towards the end. I just told myself to keep pushing, I'm winning. But she never let up.”
Playing late into the evening in New York City, the battle was a rematch of the pair’s Australian Open quarterfinal, which saw Kenin come away victorious in straight sets over Jabeur en route to her maiden Grand Slam title. It was the second time Kenin had defeated the Tunisian en route to a title, after recording a victory over Jabeur on her way to victory at the 2019 Mallorca Open as well.
History repeated itself on Louis Armstrong Stadium, with Kenin fighting her way into the fourth round of the US Open for the first time in her career - and she’s done it without dropping a set.
“It was the best she's played against me,” Kenin acknowledged afterwards. “Obviously I played her a few times, so I know her game well. She was serving, moving well. It was a really tough battle. She never let up. It was really close.
“I knew I needed to serve and break her serve. She was playing and serving well, so credit to her. It was a good match.”
Jabeur frustrated Kenin with her signature variety for much of the closely-contested opening set, changing the direction of the ball at will and keeping the American on the run. The Tunisian grabbed the first break of the match to take a 4-2 lead, before racing out to 40-0 on her own serve. But Kenin fought her way into the game to break, and the momentum shifted to the No.2 seed.
The pair stayed deadlocked throughout the tiebreaker, trading breaks to keep them even at 4-4. But Kenin showed her grit to reel off the last three points in a row and wrench the set away from Jabeur.
Kenin kept her focus into the second set, despite seeing an early break evaporate as Jabeur continued to fight back, 2-1. But the American was dialed in and methodical as she continued to chip away at Jabeur’s defenses, grabbing the decisive break in the next game to stretch her lead to 3-1. They stayed on serve as Kenin closed out the match 7-6(4), 6-3.
No.16 seed Elise Mertens awaits in the next round. The Belgian edged past Catherine McNally 7-5, 6-1 earlier in the day to advance.
“I played her in Wuhan last. It was a really close match. I won by two or three points,” Kenin recalled. “Obviously it's going to be really physical. She's playing well. She's had a lot of matches. Big serve. Big hitter. It's going to be a good matchup.
“I got to get my body ready because it's going to be physical.”
Playing late into the evening in New York City, the match was a rematch of the pair’s Australian Open quarterfinal, which saw Kenin come away victorious in straight sets over Jabeur en route to her maiden Grand Slam title. It was the second time Kenin had defeated the Tunisian en route to a title, after recording a victory over Jabeur on her way to victory at the 2019 Mallorca Open as well.