2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin was one of a handful of American first-round winners at the Miami Open on Wednesday.
Former World No.4 Kenin fended off a late comeback by Australian qualifier Storm Hunter before prevailing 6-0, 7-6(5) in 1 hour and 23 minutes on the Grandstand. It was a triumphant return to Miami for Kenin, who withdrew from last year's edition with an ankle injury.
Kenin was the aggressor in the first meeting between the two, with her 28 winners quadrupling Hunter's total of seven. Kenin also had 21 unforced errors, but that was only four more than Hunter's 17.
Kenin raced to a commanding 6-0, 3-1 lead in about half an hour, but Hunter suddenly made a huge second-set run, winning four straight games to lead 5-3. The Aussie served for the set at 5-4, but Kenin tidied up her recent surge in errors and broke back for 5-5.
In the tiebreak, a Kenin double fault gave Hunter a 5-3 lead, but Kenin again came back with sturdy play in rallies, reaching 5-5. There, Hunter double faulted to give Kenin a match point, and the qualifier missed a forehand into the net to cede victory to Kenin.
Kenin will now face No.28 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in the second round. Kenin leads their head-to-head 3-2, including a win in this year's Hobart quarterfinals.
Montgomery notches first tour-level main-draw win
Also on Wednesday, 18-year-old Washington D.C. native Robin Montgomery had a breakthrough at tour-level, earning her first career WTA main-draw victory by overcoming Romania's Ana Bogdan 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Wildcard Montgomery, ranked six spots below her career high at World No.193, took exactly two hours to grind past World No.60 Bogdan and reach the second round of a WTA main-draw for the first time, in her seventh WTA main-draw appearance.
The American teen nearly hit that milestone exactly one year ago, falling to Anna Kalinskaya in a final-set tiebreak in the first round of the 2022 Miami Open. This time, Montgomery closed the deal, converting all three of her break points to battle past Bogdan.
Montgomery, who won the junior singles and doubles titles at the 2021 US Open, will now take on fellow American Madison Keys in the second round, in their first meeting. Keys is seeded No.19 this week.
Americans Townsend, Brengle, Rogers advance
Also on Wednesday, Taylor Townsend won a main-draw match at the Miami Open for the first time since 2019 by dispatching Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-4, 6-0 in 1 hour and 19 minutes.
Still less than a year into her return from maternity leave, Townsend was dominant returning the Bondar second service, winning 72 percent of those points.
Townsend will now take on No.18 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round. Another win would put Townsend into the Miami third round for the first time since her tournament main-draw debut in 2017.
And earlier on Grandstand, Madison Brengle advanced to the second round after her fellow American Amanda Anisimova retired due to a left hip injury, with Brengle leading 7-6(5), 5-2.
World No.86 Brengle saved two set points at 6-5, then grinded out the tiebreak to take the one-set lead after nearly an hour of play. Following an early medical time-out in the second set, Anisimova retired after losing serve to fall behind 5-2.
Brengle will face No.22 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia in the second round. Brengle is a win away from matching her third-round performance at last year’s Miami Open, where she beat Liudmila Samsonova before falling to eventual champion Iga Swiatek.
Shelby Rogers closed out the action on Day 2 with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win over 2018 champion Sloane Stephens. The victory earns Rogers a second-round duel with No.2 Aryna Sabalenka on Friday. Sabalenka owns a 3-0 head-to-head record against the American, with their most recent match coming at the Australian Open in January.