“Some Tears”: Sofia Kenin Reveals About Her Mental Fight During the Opener at Australian Open 2021

Published 02/08/2021, 11:37 PM CST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 9, 2021 Sofia Kenin of the U.S. after winning her first round match against Australia’s Maddison Inglis REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake


World #4 Sofia Kenin began her title defense at the Australian Open 2021 with a victory against Maddison Inglis. She defeated the Australian 7-5, 6-4 in straight sets, but had to work harder psychologically to get the win.

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Just a few days ago, she had lost to a dangerous Garbine Muguruza at the Yarra Valley Classic tournament quarters. Naturally, her confidence as a defending champion would have taken a bit of a hit ahead of the AO 2021. And that nervousness showed in her first game at the Rod Laver Arena.

Sofia Kenin and that scary early break by her opponent

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The 22-year-old began with earning two quick points but lost the next four because of consecutive unforced forehand errors. Those initial mistakes frustrated her, and it was quite evident from her face. 

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 9, 2021 Sofia Kenin of the U.S. with Australia’s Maddison Inglis after their first round match REUTERS/Loren Elliott

In the post-game interview, she accepted, “Some nerves coming in, I’m sure everyone saw that. But it’s always nice to get the win, I love the court, I have great memories. So, I got a bit emotional, but tried to handle my emotions.”

The top-ranked American then added, “I was annoyed the whole match. I felt like the first two points started off well, but I wasn’t able to close out the first game and obviously nerves happen and she played really well, she’s a tricky player. So I was quite hard on myself today and quite annoying.”

The match was 1-2 in the first set when Kenin lost the early break in her second serve. In fact, she made a double-fault to go 0-40, which totally got on her nerves.

Was the American not at her psychological best?

Although Kenin made a quick comeback and leveled the score in the next two games to later take the set, she was still not at the top of her game. In the second set, after taking an early break, Sofia Kenin lost the lead in the sixth game and score tied at 3-3. 

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She later added, “I’m in emotions, some tears, and stuff, but I just felt like a little bit pressure, she came up to me and played well, the crowd was more or less behind her. I am happy that had some crowd behind me.

“But I was nervous, first match at a slam it’s never easy. When she was playing, she was playing a defending champion, she is more loose and I’m tight, not my 100% mentally, but a win is a win.”

Well, true, she won in straight sets and none of those emotions could hinder her performance. However, her next opponent is the 35-year-old Kaia Kanepi who was ranked #15 eight years ago. Will she again win in straight sets? Drop your predictions in the comments below.

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Sourabh Singh

1262 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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