Former Grand Slam champion Sofia Kenin, whose game has fallen on hard times, sprang a surprise on second seed Aryna Sabalenka as she sent the second seed out of the Rome Masters second round on Thursday.

Kenin, who won the 2020 Australian Open, defeated current Melbourne holder Sabalenka 7-6 (4), 6-2, breaking the seed on four of 11 chances.

Sabalenka has been on a tear this WTA season with 29 match wins and quarter-finals of better in six of her last eight Masters 1000-level events.

No. 134 Kenin has gone three years without a win over a Top 10 opponent; she last won at the Foro Italico in 2019.

“Obviously I’m super happy, I played really well,” Kenin said, “She’s had some great results so going into the match there was  not much pressure on my side.

“I tried to use that to my advantage, and of course I felt like an underdog coming in. 

“I tried to take it to her, do my best. I had to bring my A-game in order to win.

“This gives me more confidence,” Kenin said. “Hopefully I can use that to my advantage for my next round.” .

Sabalenka came to Italy with the title form last weekend in Madrid at that 1000 event.

The first set lasted for well over an hour, with Sabalenka rallying twice from a break down but still managing to lose it in a tiebreaker.

Kenin kept up the pressure in the second set, breaking for 4-2 and finishing off the upset on her first match point.

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