Sofia Kenin, the Australian Open’s reigning champion, was knocked out of the Melbourne-based tournament Thursday in the biggest upset of the competition thus far. The fourth-seeded Kenin fell to unseeded Estonian player Kaia Kanepi rather decisively in a 6-3, 6-2 loss.
The 22-year-old American was in tears in her post match press conference, though she refused tissues that moderators offered to her on the podium.
“She obviously played well,” Kenin said, per the New York Times. “I was obviously way too nervous.
“I feel like everyone was always asking me, ‘Would you want to? Do you see yourself getting [to Melbourne] and winning again?’ Obviously I said yes. Yeah, I mean, with the way I’m playing, no'”
The numbers show those nerves. Yes, Kanepi put together a dominant performance that featured 10 aces in all — especially impressive given that she’s 13 years older than Kenin — but what really stands out is the 22 unforced errors and her inability to convert any of the seven break-point opportunities she had.
“I really don’t know what I am doing right now,” Kenin added. “I’m not there 100 percent, my game, physically, mentally.”
Though the American won last year’s Australian Open, and made it to the final of the French Open in October, it’s been a tough 2021 for her as of late. She fell in the quarterfinals of the Abu Dhabi Open in January — her third set was a 6-0 loss — and just one day earlier, her and her doubles partner, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, were knocked out in a third-set tiebreaker.