QUEBEC CITY, Canada -- No.5 seed Sofia Kenin of the United States moved into her third WTA quarterfinal of the year after defeating Canadian wild card Francoise Abanda, 6-4, 6-4, in the second round of the Coupe Banque Nationale présentée par IGA on Thursday evening.
"Francoise is a tough player," Kenin said, following her victory. "The points were obviously really close, and I knew I had to fight to win, and I’m happy with the way I played."
World No.67 Kenin avenged a loss in their only prior meeting, which was at a Challenger event in 2016 when both were ranked outside of the Top 300, and took the win in Quebec City in one hour and 12 minutes.
The American teenager edged the home-country heroine in most of the stats, claiming 71 percent of points on her first serve, compared to 63 percent for the Canadian. Abanda, who reached the Quebec City quarterfinals last year, hit three aces to Kenin's one, but was broken four times in the match while only breaking Kenin's serve twice.
In the quarterfinals, 19-year-old Kenin will meet No.3 seed and 2016 Olympic champion Monica Puig of Puerto Rico. On Wednesday, Puig advanced into the elite eight after American Madison Brengle retired due to a hand injury while the Puerto Rican led 7-5, 3-0.
Kenin and Puig have never met on tour, but Kenin said they have practiced together. "It will be a good match tomorrow," Kenin continued. "She’s obviously aggressive, more like a player like me, tries to take control, so it should be a good match for me."
Kenin leapt to a 3-0, double-break lead in the match, forcing errors from Abanda with her forehand wing. After the two exchanged breaks to reach 4-1, Kenin held for 5-1 with consecutive forehand winners, polishing off the game with a stunning shot down the line.
Abanda reclaimed one of the breaks to reach 5-3, then claimed a third straight game to hold for 5-4 as Kenin struggled to return the Canadian’s deliveries. However, Kenin did not flinch when serving out the set, converting her first set point with a deep forehand winner in the corner of the court.
The Canadian did not falter after losing the opener, and staved off two break points in the first game of the second set to hold for 1-0. Abanda maintained her composure to erase another break point at 3-3, calmly rebounding to hold serve and maintain a slight 4-3 lead.
Kenin then had to dodge two break points in that game, but maneuvered around them with assistance from her backhand drop shot, which had been a helpful shot in the first set as well.
Kenin said that the fast surface was conducive to her drop shots. "At the beginning, it was hard to adjust, but fast is good, it goes with my game -- drop shots! I like it."
Holding for 4-4 proved to be key for Kenin, as she finally claimed the first break of the set in the next game, blasting a crosscourt forehand for a winner to open up a 5-4 advantage.
The American fell behind 15-30 while serving for the match, but it would prove to be a minor blip as Abanda missed two service returns in a row to set up match point for Kenin. After a forehand by Abanda went long at that juncture, Kenin had booked her spot in the final eight.