It’s true what they say: There’s no place like home.
Coco Gauff capped off her return to Atlanta with a Monday night exhibition victory over Sofia Kenin, winning 6-1, 6-2 at Atlantic Station.
“Yeah, my experience here in Atlanta has been fantastic. I grew up here and haven’t been back (in) 10 years. So, very warm welcome,” Gauff told Atlanta Open host Jason Bailey after the match.
Gauff started her second exhibition match of the week controlling the first set early. With errors continually plaguing Kenin’s game, Gauff jumped to a 5-0 lead. Kenin began to find her footing in the next game, though.
Starting in Gauff’s favor, a double-fault by Kenin put Gauff up 30-0, but Kenin rallied to win her first game of the match. Gauff quickly picked herself up to run away with the next game and take the set with ease, winning 6-1.
The second set began with an error by Gauff and put Kenin up 15-0. However, Gauff regained control, leaving the crowd roaring after a beautiful forehand gave her the first game of the second set. Logging in back-to-back 114 mph serves, an ace by Gauff put her up 2-0. Responding with some hustle, Kenin narrowed her deficit to 2-1.
Gauff went on to answer, asserting dominance with her serves. In the fourth game, Gauff delivered back-to-back aces and led 3-1. The following two games continued to be controlled by Gauff’s aggressiveness, giving her a 5-1 lead.
Kenin was not ready to call it a night, though. Holding serve, Kenin cut into Gauff’s lead, 5-2. One more win lingered for Gauff to clinch the match. Up 40-15, Gauff allowed a ball boy to play out the match point. In front of the roaring crowd, he and Gauff sealed the exhibition match victory, 6-2.
This exhibition match marked Kenin’s first appearance on the court since the 2022 Indian Wells Masters, where she lost in the first round. Since then, Kenin has been battling an ankle injury that has kept her from competition during the last few months. On Monday night, Kenin received a warm welcome from the Atlanta Open crowd in her return to the court.
“Unfortunate to have that injury, but I’m glad to be back, and it was a fun match, Coco,” Kenin said. “And, yeah, I mean, I’m glad to have been here. I love the crowd and the support and, yeah, I mean, I’m super excited to be back, grateful. You know, I’m just thankful for a lot of things. Because like, you know, like you said, I was in a cast and now I’m playing so, you know, I’m just thankful.”