MELBOURNE – Sofia Kenin knew this would be a tough test at the Australian Open, a potentially early end to her first attempt to defend a Grand Slam title.
Upon realizing she probably would be playing big-hitting veteran Kaia Kanepi in the second round, Kenin acknowledged, she “maybe kind of broke down a little bit.”
Kenin was right to be worried. And, with Kanepi at her best, this one was over quickly. Delivering 10 aces, Kanepi powered her way past the fourth-seeded Kenin, overwhelming the 2020 champion 6-3, 6-2 in only 64 minutes on Thursday.
“I obviously felt like I’m not there 100% — physically, mentally, my game. Everything just feels real off, obviously. It’s not good,” Kenin said at her news conference, where she wiped away tears. “I mean, I just — I know I couldn’t really handle the pressure.”
One person who knows how to defend a major title is Rafael Nadal, who shares the men's record of 20 with Roger Federer.
Nadal shrugged off some heckling from a spectator before beating 177th-ranked Michael Mmoh 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in the last night match, showing no signs of the back soreness that has bothered him.
Nadal was serving for the second set at 5-4 when a woman yelled out and made hand gestures as he prepared to serve. She yelled again at 30-0 and stadium security escorted her out of Rod Laver Arena. As the rest of the crowd started booing the woman, Nadal laughed.
After the brief delay, he hit two aces to finish off the set. He wrapped up the match 1 hour, 47 minutes.