Sofia Kenin Posts Embarrassing Record as a Reigning Champion After Shock Australian Open 2021 Exit

Published 02/11/2021, 3:48 AM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 11, 2021 Sofia Kenin of the U.S. in action during her second round match against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi REUTERS/Loren Elliott


Defending women’s champion Sofia Kenin crashed out of the Australian Open on Thursday, writing herself into the record books for all the wrong reasons.

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In the process of suffering a straight-set defeat at the hands of Estonian Kaia Kanepi in Round 2 at Melbourne Park, the American became only the third women’s player in the Open Era to go out of the tournament in one of the two opening rounds.

Kenin only the third women’s player in Open Era to crash out in the opening two rounds of Australian Open

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The only other players to have crashed out at similar stages of the tournament are former stars Mary Pierce at the second round in 1996 and Jennifer Capriati in the opening round in 2003.

Kenin, who beat two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza to the title last year, was strangely off her game on Thursday as she was routed 3-6, 2-6 by the Estonian.

The match stats bore tell-tale evidence of the fairly lop-sided contest as the 65th-ranked Kanepi clearly had the better of the exchanges early on in the proceedings and her game grew progressively stronger as the match wore on.

While the Estonian fired 10 aces and won 80% of points on her first serve, the current World Number 1 couldn’t hit a single one and was significantly behind in the game, with just 57% of points garnered on her first serve.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 11, 2021 Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in action during her second round match against Sofia Kenin of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Estonian Kaia Kanepi outskilled Sofia Kenin

In another glaring piece of statistics that shows just where the American fell behind in the contest and couldn’t catch up, Kanepi converted three of her seven breakpoint opportunities while Kenin couldn’t cash in on even one of the same number of chances that she created off her opponent’s serve.

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In a recent interview, Kenin had said she was a great admirer of defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic and how he manages to keep an amazing level of consistency in the tournament every year.

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She added that going forward, she would like to emulate Djokovic’s run of championship wins across Grand Slams.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion has won an unprecedented eight titles at the Australian Open.

Another title this year would put the Serb at level with the legendary Martina Navratilova for the most number of trophies won at a single Grand Slam event.

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Navratilova won nine of her 18 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

863 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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