Sofia Kenin progressed into the second round of the Australian Open despite being extremely nervous in her first match as a defending champion at a Grand Slam, while Victoria Azarenka had difficulty breathing and lost her opener.
The fourth-seeded Kenin was extremely tight in a 7-5 6-4 victory over 133rd-ranked Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis. Kenin was broken twice early in the first set as her opponent established a 3-1 lead, but the American managed to level and work her way to a win despite being close to tears several times during the match.
After squeezing past the opponent who has never won a tour-level match, Kenin recognized that she had to get better at controlling her emotions.
The 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion Azarenka, a US Open finalist in September, seems to be another victim of hard quarantine. The Belarusian struggled with breathing and needed an inhaler in her 7-5 6-4 loss to world No.61 Jessica Pegula.
The reason for that health problem is the fact that Azarenka was confined to her hotel room for 14 days, as one of the 72 players who traveled on charter flights where positive COVID-19 cases were detected upon arrival in Australia.
The biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air. That really took a toll. I don’t know how to prepare after two weeks in quarantine. I don’t have a blueprint how to prepare. It’s all about trying to figure it out and I didn’t figure it out. Not this time.