Last year’s Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin was knocked out of the tournament’s 2021 edition after a quick 6-3 6-2 loss to Estonian world No.65 Kaia Kanepi in the second round.
After being close to tears multiple times during her tight first-round victory, the fourth-seeded Kenin acknowledged that she needed to get the grip of her nerves if she wanted to be successful this fortnight. However, the pressure of being a defending Grand Slam champion for the first time was too much for the American at this moment and it took its toll in the second round.
The 35-year-old Kanepi dominated the 64-minute encounter on Margaret Court Arena by saving 7/7 break points and recording 22 winners to her opponent’s 10. Serve was one of Kanepi’s strengths on Thursday, as she hit 10 aces.
The 2021 season started extremely well for Kanepi, as the big-hitting veteran reached her first WTA final since 2013 at last week’s Australian Open warm-up tournament called the Gippsland Trophy. En route to that final she ended Aryna Sabalenka’s 15-match winning streak.
The 22-year-old Kenin was crying at the post-match press conference, saying how she couldn’t find her rhythm and could’t execute her shots because of nervousness. The outside pressure was too strong, she felt like all eyes were on her to defend her title in Melbourne.