Abu Dhabi Open: Kenin opens season with win over Yang

American Sofia Kenin hit 11 aces during her comprehensive victory against Zhaoxuan Yang to set up a second-round match against Kirsten Flipkens.

Sofia Kenin of USA in action during her Women's Singles match on Day Two of the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open at Zayed Sports City on January 07.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Sofia Kenin opened her season Thursday by beating Yang Zhaoxuan 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Open.

The American hit 11 aces against Yang to set up a second-round match against Kirsten Flipkens.

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"Obviously a little bit of nerves. I had to try and find my groove," said Kenin, the Australian Open champion who will try to defend her title next month.

"First set was quite tough for me. I couldn't find the ball, I guess. But second set I showed up strong and of course I feel like it's because of the lack of matches for me." After a long pre-season, Kenin said she was happy to beat a player who had already had match practice in qualifying, but she had concerns about her own fatigue toward the end.

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"I was like: 'I just want to finish already. I'm too tired,'" Kenin said.

Also, fourth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka came back after trailing 5-3 in the opening set to beat Polona Hercog 7-6 (5), 6-2, sixth-seeded Elena Rybakina defeated Lucrezia Stefanini 6-1, 6-3, Hsieh Su-Wei upset eighth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), and Sara Sorribes Tormo beat French Open semifinalist Nadia Podoroska 6-3, 6-3.

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