Brengle edged by Kenin in tiebreaker at U.S. Open

Despite her physical struggles, for a few minutes Monday night Dover native Madison Brengle looked to have erased a disastrous start and seemed to be on her way to her first win at the Open since 2015. Photo courtesy of U.S. Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. — With all the debilitating pain she suffers through every day as a pro tennis player, Madison Brengle said she doesn’t stress about wins and losses much anymore.

But Brengle’s first-round U.S. Open match Monday night at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will surely be one she thinks about for a while.

Recovering from a disastrous start to snare a 4-1 lead in the third set against Sofia Kenin, the Dover native was unable to hold on to her edge and fell, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (4) on Court 7.

“She fought very hard, I did too, she played a good tiebreaker and it was a really good battle,” Brengle said in quotes provided to the WTA (she declined to be interviewed). “It’s just disappointing to lose like that.”

Brengle, who suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and often has extreme pain in her right hand, said her hand “started to blow up as the match went on.”

“I started to lose a lot of motor control and it was really hard and really painful,” Brengle said.

Despite her physical struggles, for a few minutes Monday night the 28-year-old Brengle looked to have erased a disastrous start and seemed to be on her way to her first win at the Open since 2015.

After losing the 4-1 lead, Brengle recovered and was leading, 6-5, in the final set. With her 19-year-old opponent, Kenin, struggling with right-hand cramping, Brengle had two match points to finish off an improbable win.

But a forehand that sailed wide by Brengle squandered one match point, and a huge forehand winner by Kenin took care of the other.

In the tiebreak at 6-6, neither player could grab much of an edge until, at 5-4, Kenin forced a Brengle forehand error, and one Kenin forehand volley later, Brengle was on the wrong end of a crushing defeat.

The dramatic ending was not anything fans would’ve predicted at the start. The Brengle-Kenin match had more twists and turns than any roller-coaster you can find at Six Flags.

The first set was over in a blink, with Kenin, ranked No. 65 in the world, blitzing Brengle in a mere 23 minutes. Brengle seemingly couldn’t do anything with Kenin’s powerful strokes, and it looked like it’d be an early night for the Dover native.

It was a frustrating U.S. Open once again for Madison Brengle, who is currently suing the International Tennis Federation and the WTA for damages due to drug tests administered to her in 2015 and 2016 that exacerbated her CRPS. After reaching the third round in 2015, she’s fallen in the first round the past three years. Photo courtesy of U.S. Open

But the second set was much more competitive. Brengle, who only got into the U.S. Open Sunday as a “lucky loser” after Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum withdrew on Sunday, began dictating the points and gave herself a mock cheer when she finally got on the scoreboard at 1-1, clasping her hands together and thanking God she finally had gotten a game.

But her mocking self-congratulations soon turned to confidence, as Brengle started to use her backhand to push Kenin around, and suddenly the Florida teenager was spraying errors all over the court.

When Brengle forced a backhand error on set point to even the match, it suddenly looked like she had all the momentum.

And the third set looked much like the second, with Kenin yelling at herself and Brengle dictating points and smashing winners.

But at 4-1, so close to the finish line, Brengle faltered. Kenin’s erratic forehand began finding the mark again, and three straight games went by in a blink, and it was 4-4.

Brengle was able to break Kenin’s serve six times, but the Floridian broke Brengle eight times.

It was a frustrating U.S. Open once again for Brengle, who is currently suing the International Tennis Federation and the WTA for damages due to drug tests administered to her in 2015 and 2016 that exacerbated her CRPS. After reaching the third round in 2015, she’s fallen in the first round the past three years.

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