Kenin opens season with win over Yang at Abu Dhabi Open

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Sofia Kenin opened her season Thursday by beating Yang Zhaoxuan 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Open.

The American hit 11 aces against Yang to set up a second-round match against Kirsten Flipkens.

“Obviously a little bit of nerves. I had to try and find my groove,” said Kenin, the Australian Open champion who will try to defend her title next month. “First set was quite tough for me. I couldn’t find the ball, I guess. But second set I showed up strong and of course I feel like it’s because of the lack of matches for me.”

After a long preseason, Kenin said she was happy to beat a player who had already had match practice in qualifying, but she had concerns about her own fatigue toward the end.

“I was like: `I just want to finish already. I’m too tired,”‘ Kenin said.

Second-seeded Elina Svitolina had to contend with the wind changing direction as she won 6-4, 6-3 against American Jessica Pegula.

“The conditions were not easy today, with the wind going around the court and changing all the time, so I tried to really stay focused on what I had to do on the court,” Svitolina said.

Third-seeded Karolina Pliskova hit seven double-faults in a tough match against 278th-ranked lucky loser Despina Papamichail before winning 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Also, fourth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka came back after trailing 5-3 in the opening set to beat Polona Hercog 7-6 (5), 6-2, sixth-seeded Elena Rybakina defeated Lucrezia Stefanini 6-1, 6-3, Hsieh Su-Wei upset eighth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), and Sara Sorribes Tormo beat French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska 6-3, 6-3. American teenager Coco Gauff won the first 11 games in her 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Ulrikke Eikeri.

Nishioka beats Shapovalov to win Korean Open

2022 US Open - Day 1
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SEOUL, South Korea – Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka claimed his second career title after beating fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 7-6 (5) to win the Korean Open.

The 27-year-old Japanese, who beat top seed and world No.2 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, was impressive in defense and his counter-punching style eventually wore down his higher ranked opponent in just under two hours at the Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Center.

The unseeded Nishioka, appearing in his second championship match this year after reaching the Washington final in August, started the brighter and found his rhythm early to claim the first set.

The second set saw momentum change as Shapavolov found his range from the backcourt to take a 3-1 lead. But Nishioka rallied to take the set into a tiebreak where he held firm to win his first tournament since his maiden title at the Shenzen Open in 2018 – where he also beat Shapovalov in their only previous meeting.

The ATP Tour returned to Seoul for the first time since 1996 after the city was awarded a single-year license to stage the Korean Open.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.