‘Being Grand Slam champion’ helps Kenin escape Abu Dhabi shock

ABU DHABI (AFP) – Top seed Sofia Kenin (pic below) admitted “being a Grand Slam champion” proved crucial as she saved a match point to reach the quarter-finals of the season-opening Abu Dhabi WTA tournament on Sunday night.

The defending Australian Open champion defeated 13th-seeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

However, Kenin, who was also last year’s Roland Garros runner-up, had to save a match point in the 12th game of the second set to stay alive.

She will now face ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece for a semi-final spot.

Sakkari defeated fifth-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the former Wimbledon and Roland Garros winner, 7-5, 6-4.

“I practice with her (Putintseva) quite a bit, and I know her game well, and she knows my game pretty well,” Kenin said.

“I guess it helps being a Grand Slam champion, knowing kind of what to do on those tough points, those tough moments, and I was able to find my rhythm by the end of the third set.”

Ukraine second seed Elina Svitolina came from 3-5 down in the final set and saved two match points during the final-set tiebreak to beat 17th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia, 6-2, 6-7 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8).