Exit a bitter pill to swallow for Kenin

Exit a bitter pill to swallow for Kenin

NEW YORK • Sofia Kenin is already done crying over her one-sided loss to Elise Mertens in the fourth round of the US Open on Monday and the second seed will instead focus on the positives from her campaign at her home Grand Slam.

The Australian Open champion had not dropped a set, winning 26 of her 28 service games, and was the highest surviving seed at Flushing Meadows coming into her match against an opponent she had defeated both times in their previous meetings.

But an error-strewn performance under the lights at the Arthur Ashe Stadium by Kenin meant Belgian 16th seed Mertens barely felt any pressure during the 6-3, 6-3 win in less than 75 minutes.

“I did better at US Open than I usually do, fourth round, that’s better,” the world No. 4, who lost in the third round in the previous three editions, told reporters in a virtual video conference.

“This is not funny, but somehow you have to joke around. I’m going to take the positives from here, try to forget this match. Yeah, I cried after already. Just trying to hold it back right now. Not happy about that match, but we’ll see.”

The American lifted her first Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne at the start of the year and then added a WTA title in Lyon, days before the circuit came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She had largely flown under the radar at the US Open amid her more illustrious compatriots like 23-time Slam winner Serena Williams, but was still expected to reach the later stages, given the absence of many big names over coronavirus fears.

But with the French Open starting on Sept 27, Russian-born Kenin does not have the time nor luxury to dwell on her upset.

Revealing she would leave for Europe in a few days, with the clay-court swing beginning on Monday in Rome, the 21-year-old said: “I hate losing. Obviously, it’s gotten better since I’m not losing that much.

“I guess I’ll take a few days just to finally go back on the court and everything. Tonight is not going to be such a great night because obviously I’m pretty bummed about what happened.

“I had a good tournament here. I’m real happy with the way I played. I feel like my confidence is there. Still nothing has changed. I’m excited to head over to clay.”

BLANK OUT

This is not funny, but somehow you have to joke around. I’m going to take the positives from here, try to forget this match. Yeah, I cried after already.

SOFIA KENIN, world No. 4, after her fourth-round loss to Elise Mertens.

Williams kept alive her hopes of a record-tying 24th Major singles title after a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari of Greece, while in the men’s draw, Dominic Thiem, who is the highest-ranking seed left after world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s shock expulsion for striking a line judge with a stray ball, also moved on.

The Austrian, who has yet to land his first Grand Slam despite making three finals, cruised past Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-1.

While Thiem and Williams had indicated they will be travelling to the French Open, defending women’s singles champion Ashleigh Barty confirmed she would be withdrawing due to the pandemic, which also ruled her out of the US Open.

The world No. 1, who won her maiden Slam last year, said yesterday: “There are two reasons for my decision – the first is the health risks that still exist with Covid. The second is my preparation, which has not been ideal without my coach being able to train with me due to the state border closures in Australia.

“I wish the players and the French Federation all the best for a successful tournament. I now look forward to a long pre-season and the summer in Australia.”

REUTERS

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