TORONTO, Canada -- Sofia Kenin became the first semifinalist at the 2019 Rogers Cup, as the 20-year-old American upset No.6 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 7-6(2), 6-4, on a blustery Friday afternoon.
World No.29 Kenin picked up her third Top 10 win of the season with her one-hour and 45-minute victory over Svitolina, avenging a loss to the Ukrainian in their only prior meeting, at Indian Wells earlier this year. The American claimed her first-ever win over a World No.1 earlier this week with her second-round victory over Ashleigh Barty.
"In Indian Wells, I kind of felt like I lost it," Kenin said, in her post-match press conference. "I just let a few opportunities go by. But here I knew if I'm going to win, she's going to make me earn it. So I think I did a pretty good job adjusting because, like I said, conditions weren't easy. It was pretty windy. And I felt it was pretty more mental today."
Kenin, who won her first two WTA singles titles this year in Hobart and Mallorca, improves to 4-0 in quarterfinal matches on tour in 2019. The American, who came back from an 0-4 deficit in the opening set, had 32 winners to Svitolina's 17, and saved all seven break points against her in the second set.
"[Svitolina] has good hands, plays really well," said Kenin. "So I just needed to stay solid and just somehow find my rhythm because, obviously, I didn't really have my good rhythm that I wanted to. And I felt like throughout the match it just got better."
"She has really great defense, so I knew I needed to be patient when I closed the points out," Kenin added. "It wasn't easy, obviously. Like I said, I didn't have really good rhythm, which she took away even though she gave me different balls. So I'm just really happy with the way I was able to be patient and close it out."
Kenin initially struggled with unforced errors in the windy conditions, and Svitolina took advantage by forcing miscues with deep groundstrokes. The Ukrainian claimed a nearly 10-minute game to reach a double-break advantage at 3-0, and after consolidating for 4-0, Svitolina held a commanding lead.
However, after getting on the board at 4-1, Kenin started to hit her targets more successfully, and the American clawed one break back for 4-2. Then, with Svitolina serving for the set at 5-4, Kenin powered to triple break point, and converted the third chance with a backhand crosscourt winner to pull all the way back to level footing at 5-5.
Kenin’s momentum peaked in the tiebreak, as she took the first two points on Svitolina’s service with a forehand winner and a deft dropshot respectively, to reach 3-0. A backhand winner pulled Kenin to 5-0, and the American used a pristine lob to grab five set points at 6-1. A double fault erased the first, but a winning backhand pass sealed the second, and Kenin had roared back to take the opener.
Kenin continued to exhibit tremendous grit in the opening stages of the second set, staving off five break points in her first two service games en route to 2-2. The American was rewarded for her steeliness when she broke Svitolina at love to go up 3-2, ending that game with a return winner smack on the baseline.
Svitolina again had Kenin in danger on the American’s serve at 4-3, using strong returns to garner two more break points. However, Kenin was again calm under pressure, and fended both off, the second with a stunning dropshot winner. After a backhand winner down the line brought Kenin to game point, Svitolina misfired on a backhand to let the American reach 5-3.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Kenin fired a forehand winner to set up double match point. The unseeded player shot a backhand wide on her first chance, but converted the second after a long forehand by Svitolina.
In the final four, Kenin will meet Canadian hope Bianca Andreescu, who won a quarterfinal clash with No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in three sets.
"Having these really good wins under my belt against these really tough players and top players, I think it's always good and it just gives me more confidence," said Kenin. "It's helping me to keep the rhythm going and I guess we'll see tomorrow what's going to happen."