Defending Champ Sofia Kenin Eliminated From 2021 Australian Open

Sofia Kenin at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto. Photo by Canadian Press/Shutterstock (10355724ad)

Sofia Kenin’s bid to defend her Australian Open title from 2020 has come to an end. Kenin, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, suffered a shocking exit from this year’s tournament after a second-round loss to veteran Kaia Kanepi.

Unseeded Kanepi was in control for most of the match, delivering powerful shots and hard-hitting serves. This resulted in a dominant 6-3, 6-2 win as Kenin couldn’t find an answer to her opponent’s game.

“I served really well today. I think this helped a lot,” said Kanepi after the match. “My game plan was to play aggressively, as I normally do.”

Kenin, on the other hand, said that the pressure and expectations played a part in her poor outing.

“I couldn’t find my rhythm,” said Kenin. “I was obviously way too nervous.”

Sofia Kenin was coming off a great campaign in 2020 when she posted career-best scores on Grand Slam tournaments. She first won the 2020 Australian Open with an upset win over Garbine Muguruza and then reached the fourth round of the US Open. Kenin concluded the year with a finals appearance at the French Open.

Kaia Kanepi, on the other hand, has never made it past the third round at the Australian Open. She has multiple quarterfinals appearances on all three remaining Grand Slams.

Kanepi will look for her career-best result at the Australian Open against No. 28-seeded Croatian Donna Vekic in the third round on Saturday. Vekic played Nadia Podoroska in the second round and had an easy 6-2, 6-2 win.