Sofia Kenin powers into Hobart semis

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Former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin is two wins away from her first title in three years after coming from behind to make the semi-finals of the Hobart International.

The 24-year-old, whose battles with poor form and injury saw her ranking nosedive last year, finished with a flurry to beat Ukrainian fifth seed Anhelina Kalinina 4-6 6-3 6-1 on Thursday.

Kenin, who reached a career-high world No.4 ranking not long after her Open triumph at Melbourne Park in 2020, is currently ranked 280.

It is the American’s first semi-final at WTA level or higher since her run to the final of the French Open in 2020.

“I just tried to keep on fighting. She’s a tough player to play. I knew I had to hang in there,” Kenin, the 2019 Hobart winner, said.

“Match after match I’m playing better and better. I hope I can keep it going.”

Kenin, who needed a wildcard for entry at Hobart, said earlier this week she was starting to feel like herself again on court and somewhere near her best form.

She didn’t drop a set in wins over world No.85 Lin Zhu and No.87 Maryna Zanevska in the first and second rounds respectively.

Kenin will meet Italian 21-year-old Elisabetta Cocciaretto for a place in the final.

Cocciaretto, who upset third seed Alize Cornet in round one, had a gruelling 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 quarter-final victory over sixth seeded American Bernarda Pera.

Kenin will relish the match practice ahead of a tough Australian Open first-round clash with two-time champion and world No.25 Victoria Azarenka.

American Lauren Davis will meet fellow qualifier Anna Blinkova in the other semi-final after both won their quarter-final matches in straight sets.

Russia’s Blinkova upset eighth seed Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-4, while Davis beat Chinese qualifier Xinyu Wang 6-3 6-3 at night.

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