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Keys survives gritty Kenin

Agence France-Presse



AFP Photo.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Madison Keys made it through another tense finish, letting one match point slip before finishing off Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3, 5-7 10-2 in the women’s tennis event in Charleston, South Carolina.

Keys, who would have been defending her 2019 Charleston Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title earlier this year if the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t halted play on the women’s tennis tour, had overcome a late lapse in a 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 10-4 victory over fellow American Caroline Dolehide.

She said the tight finishes in the 16-player team event, which is being played with strict social distancing protocols and with no spectators, would stand her in good stead when the WTA resumes in Palermo on 3 August.

She was up two breaks at 4-0 in the second set and held a match point against Kenin’s serve in the ninth game that she couldn’t convert.

Keys dropped her next two service games but regrouped in the 10-point tiebreaker, saying she was “kind of giving myself a little bit of grace, knowing that I don’t have those big points under my belt right now.

“I know that these matches come in handy later, once the tour comes back and (I’m) just using that as an opportunity and not being too hard on myself.”

The match pitted the top-ranked players to feature in the team event, which is being played on the same green clay courts that host the annual WTA Charleston event.

Kenin, who won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, is ranked fourth in the world while Keys is ranked 13th.

“When you play someone like (Kenin) you know that she is going to up her levels, especially when it matters,” Keys said. “She definitely did that at the end of the second set.”

“A few of those points were me, but I thought I had a pretty clean tiebreaker.”