Kenin claims maiden WTA title in Hobart

Tennis

With a maiden WTA title under her belt, American youngster Sofia Kenin has her sights fixed on doing some damage at the Australian Open.

The 20-year-old claimed the Hobart International on Saturday, surging past unseeded Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-3 6-0 in her first top-level singles final.

Kenin saved eight break points early in the first set and found her groundstroke range as the match wore on.

“I’m really happy. I didn’t want to overthink it and I’m happy with the way I composed myself,” she said.

Kenin is world No.56 but the Hobart win is expected to push her inside the top 40 for the first time.

She didn’t drop a set at the tournament in an eye-catching run that included the scalps of top seed and world No.19 Caroline Garcia, wily veteran Kirsten Flipkens and former Hobart champion Alize Cornet.

Moscow-born Kenin plays qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in the opening round of the Australian Open before a potential second-round clash with world No.1 Simona Halep.

It’s been an impressive start to the season for Kenin, who won the Auckland doubles title with Eugenie Bouchard last week.

“I couldn’t ask for a better start,” Kenin said, adding she was taking a lot of confidence into the year’s first major.

“Hopefully I can do some damage there. I’d love to play against Halep. I’m just going to take it one match at a time and hopefully I can play her I guess.”

Kenin cracked the world’s top 50 in 2018 after starting the year outside the top 100.

The 24-year-old Schmiedlova has a tricker Melbourne Park opening against 12th seed and two-time Hobart winner Elise Mertens.

“She’s a great player. It will be really difficult but I have some confidence from this tournament,” the world No.77 said.

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