Kenin reaches fourth round at French Open by beating Pegula

sofia-kenin

United States's Sofia Kenin celebrates winning a point against United States's Jessica Pegula during their third round match on day 7, of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Michel Euler/AP)

PARIS (AP) — Sofia Kenin advanced to the fourth round of the French Open for the third consecutive year by winning a seesaw match on Saturday against Jessica Pegula, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a battle of Americans.

Kenin is the highest-seeded player left in the women’s draw at No. 4, and she has shaken a slump with her return to Roland Garros, where she was the runner-up to Iga Swiatek in October.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic didn’t face a break point en route to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory over unseeded Ri?ardas Berankis.

The No. 28-seeded Pegula rallied from a 0-3 start to win the first set, but Kenin began stepping into the court to take charge of rallies, especially with a backhand that produced two dozen winners. She hit 48 winners to 18 for Pegula.

"I’m proud of myself for just fighting out there and battling out," Kenin said.

Kenin had 10 double faults and was broken five times but held in her final four service games to close out the win. The 2020 Australian Open champion, who was sidelined by an appendectomy in February, improved to 10-8 this year.

American Sloane Stephens, who is ranked 59th and is out of the top 50 for the first time since 2017, advanced by beating 18th-seeded Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5. Stephens, the runner-up in 2018, will next face Barbora Krejcikova, who upset fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-2.

Djokovic advanced to the round of 16 at the French Open for the 12th consecutive year and said he made necessary adjustments on a cool, cloudy afternoon.

"Maybe for those watching it looked simple, but it wasn’t," he told the crowd in French. "The conditions were different. How do you say in French … the bounce was lower. I think I coped well."

Djokovic next faces 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti, who rallied to win an all-Italian matchup against Marco Cecchinato, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Musetti is playing in his first Grand Slam tournament.

Jan-Lennard Struff, a 31-year-old German, matched his best Grand Slam effort by advancing to the fourth round when he beat 18-year-old qualifier Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2. No. 10 Diego Schwartzman eliminated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.

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