Keys holds off Aussie Open champ Kenin in Charleston

AFP
Madison Keys, seen here at Brisbane in January 2020, was a winner over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at the women's exhibition tennis tournament in Charleston, South Carolina (AFP Photo/Patrick HAMILTON)
Madison Keys, seen here at Brisbane in January 2020, was a winner over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at the women's exhibition tennis tournament in Charleston, South Carolina (AFP Photo/Patrick HAMILTON)

Washington (AFP) - Madison Keys made it through another tense finish on Saturday, letting one match point slip before finishing off Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3, 5-7 10-2 in the women's tennis event in Charleston, South Carolina.

Keys, who would have been defending her 2019 Charleston WTA title earlier this year if the coronavirus pandemic hadn't halted play on the women's tennis tour, had overcome a late lapse on Thursday in a 6-1, 6-7 (6/8), 10-4 victory over fellow American Caroline Dolehide.

She said the tight finishes in the 16-player team event, being played with strict social distancing protocols and with no spectators, would stand her in good stead when the WTA resumes in Palermo on August 3.

She was up two breaks at 4-0 in the second set, and held a match point against Kenin's serve in the ninth game that she couldn't convert.

Keys dropped her next two service games but regrouped in the 10-point tiebreaker, saying she was "kind of giving myself a little bit of grace, knowing that I don't have those big points under my belt right now.

"I know that these matches come in handy later, once the tour comes back and (I'm) just using that as an opportunity and not being too hard on myself."

The match pitted the top-ranked players to feature in the team event, which is being played on the same green clay courts that host the annual WTA Charleston event.

Kenin, who won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, is ranked fourth in the world while Keys is ranked 13th.

"When you play someone like (Kenin) you know that she is going to up her levels, especially when it matters," Keys said. "She definitely did that at the end of the second set.

"A few of those points were me, but I thought I had a pretty clean tiebreaker."

In the evening matches, Jennifer Brady beat fellow American Sloane Stephens 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) while the contest between Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Shelby Rogers was halted by rain.

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