Kenin gives US early lead over Latvia in Fed Cup

United States’ Sofia Kenin hits a forehand to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova during a Fed Cup qualifying tennis match Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, in Everett, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin beat Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-2 on Friday night to give the United States a 1-0 lead over Latvia in its Fed Cup match.

Six days removed from winning her first Grand Slam tournament title, Kenin overwhelmed Sevastova using a pair of breaks in the first set, cruising to victory in just over an hour.

“I was obviously a little nervous coming in after Australia,” Kenin said. “I felt tired but I tried to get that out of my mind and just represent and do what I do best.”

Serena Williams was set to face Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in Friday’s second match of the best-of-five matchup. Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, is ranked 40th in the world. Williams will be playing in her first Fed Cup match since 2018, when she played doubles with her sister, Venus. Williams is 13-0 all-time in Fed Cup singles matches, but hasn’t played singles in the tournament since 2015.

Kenin, the highest ranked American in the world at No. 7, defeated Sevastova for the second time in a month after earning a straight-set victory last month in Brisbane.

“I used that match to help me,” Kenin said. “I studied her game really well and watched my match against her. I felt like everything was going my way.

“I came up with some really clutch shots.”

Especially in the opening set.

Kenin broke Sevastova twice in the opening set, both times coming from way behind and showing the same resolve that defined her title in Melbourne. Kenin trailed love-40 in the third game of the match, but won the next five points to take a 2-1 lead. Kenin held serve at love in the next game for a 3-1 lead

Kenin rallied from a 15-40 deficit in the next game and eventually went to deuce with Sevastova six times. On the sixth deuce, Kenin gained the advantage when her slice backhand caught the top of the net and trickled over. Kenin finally took a 4-1 lead in the set when she guessed correctly off a defensive lob. Kenin stabbed Sevastova’s overhead smash into the open court for a forehand winner.

“I felt like the momentum changed big time for me,” Kenin said.

Kenin broke Sevastova in the opening game of the second set and again to go up 4-1. She closed out the match with a forehand winner, her 26th winner of the match.

___

More AP Tennis: https://w

Source: Associated Press – Tim Booth