Sandgren wins first ATP title

Tennys Sandgren of the US celebrates after beating Cameron Norrie of Britian at the ATP Auckland Classic Tennis Tournament Saturday. — AFP

AUCKLAND — American Tennys Sandgren was left speechless Saturday after claiming his first ATP tour title with a comprehensive straight sets win over Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the Auckland Classic final.

The 27-year-old Sandgren took just 79 minutes to beat Norrie 6-4, 6-2 to round out a remarkable week of tennis without dropping a set.

“I’m a little lost for words,” a relieved Sandgren said when a Norrie service return went over the baseline to end the match.

“A lot of work, a lot of training, a lot of sacrifice goes into even making a final and to get a win, I’m speechless.”

In a tournament in which none of the seeded players made it to the final four, Sandgren was playing only his second ATP final — having lost in Houston last year — while it was the first for wildcard entrant Norrie.

Sandgren said his extra experience counted.

“I left that match thinking I played a really good one but I left something on the table. Mentally, I wasn’t as good as I could have been so I didn’t want to leave today thinking that I could have been more solid upstairs.”

But there was no hiding the nerves for both players with 29 unforced errors from Norrie and 17 from Sandgren, a quarterfinalist in the Australian Open last year.

Norrie was in trouble at the start of match when he dropped his serve in the opening game.

The New Zealand-raised Briton broke back to level at 2-2 then immediately dropped his serve a second time, as Sandgren sealed the set with an ace.

Sandgren had too much power and accuracy for Norrie in the second set, breaking him twice before securing the match.

It was the first time Sandgren had beaten Norrie in their past four encounters.

Kenin clinches first WTA title

Composed American Sofia Kenin broke through to clinch her first WTA title Saturday with a straight sets win over Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova at the Hobart International.

The unseeded 20-year-old put in a dominant performance to win 6-3 6-0.

“I’m really happy to have won. I didn’t want to overthink it and I’m happy with the way I composed myself during the match,” said Kenin, ranked 56 in the world.

The 77th-ranked Schmiedlova started strongly, earning three break points on the Kenin serve in the fourth game, but couldn’t convert and never threatened from then on.

Kenin’s power and depth of groundstrokes made the difference and Schmiedlova succumbed in 71 minutes.

She has made a blistering start to the season, winning her first WTA doubles title in Auckland last week and not dropping a set in Hobart with her exploits set to see her break into the world’s top 40 when the new singles rankings are released on Monday.

“I feel in great form and I’m really proud of myself,” she added ahead of making her way to Melbourne for the Australian Open, where she will play Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in round one. — AFP