World No. 4 Sofia Kenin made a winning return to the tour in Miami on Friday night, battling back from a set down to beat former No. 9 Andrea Petkovic in her opening match, 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-3.

The American, who notched her milestone 100th career win at tour-level, was playing for the first time since undergoing an appendectomy on February 15 following a shock defeat to unranked Olivia Gadecki at Melbourne's Phillip Island Trophy, just after a second-round loss at the Australian Open.

“I obviously felt a bit more nervous at the beginning, first match after having the surgery and everything. I just told myself to keep fighting,” Kenin said. “I’m just grateful that I’m able to play here because I really wanted to get ready for the Miami Open and just enjoy every minute out there.”

A two-time semifinalist in Miami in 2011 and 2015, Petkovic came out strong, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Kenin got the break back and the two held serve until the tie-break. Petkovic went up 5-2, but Kenin kept clawing back—first she caught up to 5-all, then saved a set point down 6-5 with a perfect backhand drop shot. Petkovic hit an unreturnable crosscourt forehand at 7-6 to close it out, though.

The second set was all Kenin: she won it in just 25 minutes. But she wasn’t out of trouble yet, facing a break point serving at 3-all in the third. But she saved it, held, broke, then held one last time—hitting one last crosscourt forehand winner that clipped the line to seal the win after an hour and 59 minutes.

That forehand on match point was Kenin’s 44th winner of the contest in contrast to 26 unforced errors. She was nearly flawless on the big points, converting six of her seven break point chances.

Advertising

Kenin battles past Petkovic in Miami opener for 100th career win

Kenin battles past Petkovic in Miami opener for 100th career win

Getty Images

“I mean, I’m obviously happy with this win. It feels nice to get the win after some time not being on court, playing at tournaments,” Kenin said. “It was very humid. I’m obviously used to this since I live here, but the conditions weren’t so easy, but I’m happy that it wasn’t windy, at least.

“I was able to somehow try to play my game.”

Awaiting the No. 4-seeded Kenin in the third round will be No. 27 seed Ons Jabeur, who won a two-hour, 36-minute grinder against Spanish up-and-comer Paula Badosa, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-5.

Kenin leads Jabeur in their overall head-to-head, 5-1, including 4-0 at tour-level (not losing a set).

The American's projected fourth-round opponent, No. 13 seed Jennifer Brady, wasn't so lucky on Friday—the Australian Open finalist fell to recent Guadalajara champion Sara Sorribes Tormo, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Kenin battles past Petkovic in Miami opener for 100th career win

Kenin battles past Petkovic in Miami opener for 100th career win