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By Alberto Amalfi | Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Sofia Kenin

Sofia Kenin did not face a break point dispatching buddy Alison Riske 6-4, 6-4 in an all-American clash at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

Photo credit: Guangzhou Open

Sofia Kenin faced friendly fire in Zhuhai.

The second seed responded with a sustained bang.

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Kenin cracked her third ace on match point and did not face a break point dispatching buddy Alison Riske 6-4, 6-4 in an all-American clash at the WTA Elite Zhuhai.

The world No. 12 scored her 10th victory in her last 12 matches, including her runto her third title of the year in Guangzhou last month.

"I played really well," Kenin said in her on-court interview. "I'm really happy with this win. Ali is a such a good player. It's not easy to play a friend.

"I'm happy to have played my game. I felt the ball good so this is just really good."

It was an impressive performance from Zhuhai debutant Kenin and a high-quality match that featured just two break points. Kenin broke at love for a 3-2 lead and served out the opening set at love.

The 20-year-old baseliner from Pembroke Pines, Florida drove the ball deep to back Riske up behind the baseline then sometimes carved out drop shots to end points with finesse.

The return of serve is one of Kenin's strengths and she wielded it breaking at love for a 2-1 second-set lead. Kenin closed in style slashing the ace down the middle to wrap a one hour, 14-minute victory.   

"I feel really good," Kenin said. "I'm just gonna relax and get ready for my next match and do my best and we'll see how it goes."

"I'm really happy to be here. I played really well and, yeah, it's really exciting. This is a great experience, playing with the best and this is obviously a really tough tournament."

Earlier, Dayana Yastremska rallied from 3-5 down in the tie break saving two set points to fight off Donna Vekic 7-6(6), 6-2 in her Zhuhai debut.

Yastremska fought off successive set points at 4-6 and 5-6 winning four consecutive points to snatch the breaker.

Though the youngest player in the tournament said afterward fatigue was a factor, Yastremska looked sharp breaking in the fifth and seventh games before serving out the victory.

"First, I'm very excited to be playing here in Zhuhai," Yastremska said afterward. "I feel a little bit tired. I tried to use my chances and fight for each point." 

It was Vekic's second straight loss coming a day after her 7-6(5), 6-2 setback to top-seeded Kiki Bertens and eliminates the eighth-seeded Croatian from advancing to the semifinals.

Elise Mertens opened Wednesday's play wearing down Maria Sakkari 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

Mertens, who partnered Aryna Sabalenka to win the US Open doubles crown last month, rolled through four consecutive games to close.

The sixth-seeded Belgian, who overcame eight double faults, resides in the Rose Group with Sabalenka. The winner of the Mertens vs. Sabalenka match will advance to the semifinals.

The winners of each of the four round-robin groups advance to the semifinals


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