Former slam champion Kenin took down Sabalenka in straight sets in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
It felt like a vintage performance the one that Sofia Kenin brought to the Campo Centrale of Rome tonight as she absorbed the pace of Aryna Sabalenka’s shots to defeat the world number two in straight sets.
Coming from a very difficult couple of seasons, not last due to injuries, the American scored her best victory since the Australian Open semifinal of 2020, when she defeated Ash Barty on the way to the title. In the difficult conditions of a humid and cold evening in Rome, the world number 134 found the key to play with the conditions much faster than her opponent.
Out of the blocks, Kenin immediately broke Sabalenka, who had to play catch until the 8th game, when she broke back to go 4-4. The American took a second break to go serve for the set on 6-5, but her service faulted her for the first in the match and the second seed broke back to force a tiebreak.
Kenin kept the composure despite the missed chance and immediately took control in the tiebreak and this time she did not let go, closing it 7 points to 4.
Exhausted 😩 Definitely need some recharge 🔜 🔋— Sabalenka Aryna (@SabalenkaA) May 11, 2023
Sabalenka looked visibly in difficulty adapting to the different conditions from Madrid where she had just won the title against Iga Swiatek. Her aggressive tennis did not pay off on the slower surface and her movements did not look as confident whenever Kenin redirected her power to move her around. With more and more unforced errors leaking through her racket, not even her serve could dig her out of troubles, as Kenin read and returned her serves like during her prime.
Eventually, with a return winner, Kenin closed the match 7-6(4) 6-2 for the biggest upset of a day already rich in shocking exits.