Kenin, Sandgren win
first career singles titles
Arthur Kapetanakis | January 12, 2019
Sofia Kenin and Tennys Sandgren both made some personal history on Friday night, as both Americans claimed their first career singles titles. Continuing the similarities, both completed the feat without dropping a single set in five matches and will now enter the Australian Open in form as hot as the weather Down Under.
Kenin won the Hobart International in Australia, a WTA International event, by defeating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia, 6-3, 6-0. After saving eight break points in the early stages of the match, she found her rhythm to pull away.
Entering the 2019 season without a WTA final appearance in her young career, the 20-year-old has now won two trophies in consecutive weeks after claiming the Auckland Open doubles title with Eugenie Bouchard a week ago. The rising star is now a perfect 2-0 in WTA finals across singles and doubles.ADVERTISEMENT
"I didn't want to overthink it, and I'm happy with the way I composed myself," she said. "I couldn't ask for a better start."
With the tournament victory, Kenin rises to a career high of No. 37 in the new WTA rankings. After briefly breaking into the Top 50 in October, she ended 2018 at No. 52 and is making a name for herself as a star of the next generation of American tennis. She recently made her Fed Cup debut in November's final, showing promise in a pair of three-set losses against the Czech Republic.
Sandgren won his first career ATP title – singles or doubles – at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, by winning a battle of former collegians against Great Britain's Cameron Norrie. Sandgren, a University of Tennessee product, got past the former TCU star, 6-4, 6-2. It was the 27-year-old's second career ATP final, after he lost to Steve Johnson at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in April.
The American set the tone with a break of serve in the opening game, and was narrowly in front throughout the closely contested match.
"I'm kind of speechless," he said. "I was just grateful that I could be out here and could play and compete. I’ve had some injuries, and just to be healthy and play well has been good.”
The ATP 250 title will take Sandgren to a new career high, just outside the Top 40, when the updated rankings are released ahead of the Australian Open. The 250 ranking points he gained from his title run will take some pressure off at the Australian Open, where he is defending 360 points after his shock quarterfinal run a year ago.
Sandgren will open the 2019 Aussie Open against Yoshihito Nishioka, while Kenin begins her campaign Veronika Kudermetova.