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Kenin is first through to Aussie semis

MELBOURNE, Australia — Sofia Kenin’s breakthrough run at Grand Slam tournament has continued to the semifinals at the Australian Open.

The 21-year-old Kenin beat No. 78-ranked Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-4 in the first match Tuesday on Rod Laver Arena. Both were playing in the quarterfinals at a major for the first time.

Jabeur, a 25-year-old Tunisian, was the first Arab woman to make it to the last eight at a major.

For Kenin, who was born in Moscow but moved to the United States as a baby and grew up in Florida, the degree of difficulty increased dramatically.

In the semifinals, she’ll play either top-ranked Ash Barty, the French Open champion who is aiming to break an Australian drought at the national championship, or two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who reached the final here last year.

The 21-year-old Kenin planned to watch the match, which followed hers on Rod Laver Arena, and enjoy it. She didn’t have a preference for who she plays next.

“I’m in the semis,” she said. “”Anyone I play, they’re playing really well.”

Kenin is playing her best tennis, too. Her best previous run at Melbourne Park ended in the second round, when she lost to Simona Halep last year. He best previous run at a Grand Slam tournament was to the fourth round at the French Open last year.

She finished the year ranked 14th, and could match No. 1 Barty in one category: they were tied for most hard-court wins on the women’s tour last year with 38 wins each.

Kenin’s run here included a comeback win in the third round against 15-year-old Coco Gauff, when she made only nine unforced errors across the second and third sets.

In the second set against Jabeur, she saved three break points in a long sixth game, then broke serve in the seventh game to set up the win.

“It was a tough moment,” Kenin said. “I didn’t know it was 10 minutes (but) it was pretty long, the game. After that I got my momentum.”

In later men’s quarterfinals, 20-time major winner Roger Federer was playing 100th-ranked Tennys Sandgren, and seven-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic had a night match against Milos Raonic of Canada.

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