Australian Open 20201: Defending champion Sofia Kenin sent packing by Kaia Kanepi

Defending champion Sofia Kenin is out of the Australian Open in the second round after a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Kaia Kanepi. After her first-round win, Kenin talked about how nervous she was as the defending champion at a major for the first time. 

Against Kanepi, she looked it. She was near tears during a changeover toward the end of the match. The 65th-ranked Kanepi was hardly an underdog: she had beaten Kenin in their only previous match and is a six-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist. The Australian Open is the only Slam where Kanepi has not reached the quarterfinals. 

The fourth-seeded Kenin only had 10 winners in the match, while committing 22 unforced errors. Top-seeded Ash Barty dropped a few more points in her second-round match at the Australian Open than her first – but the result was still the same. 

Barty followed up her 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of Danka Kovinic in the first round with a much tighter 6-1, 7-6 (7) win over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova. After dropping just 10 points against Kovinic, Barty was far less consistent against Gavrilova, racking up 34 unforced errors. 

Barty’s serve was a particular problem: she was broken four times, including when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set. 

“When you play another Aussie, the rankings go out the window, experience goes out the window,” she said. “It’s always going to be a tricky match no matter what.” 

The 2019 French Open champion had her upper left thigh heavily taped during the match, though she played it down after the match with a laugh. 

“This isn’t very subtle, is it? I can’t really hide it,” Barty said, adding it was not a big issue. “I’m fit as a fiddle, I’m ready to go.” 

Former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova advances to the third round at the Australian Open by beating American Danielle Collins, a semifinalist at Melbourne Park in 2019, 7-5, 6-2. 

Pliskova, seeded sixth, lost serve twice in a seesaw first set but pulled it out and then pulled away. She finished with seven aces. 

Pliskova has won 65 matches in Grand Slams but is still seeking her first major title. She was runner-up to Angelique Kerber at the 2016 US Open. American Shelby Rogers advances to the third round at the Australian Open for the first time by beating qualifier Olga Danilovic 6-2, 6-3. 

Rogers hit seven aces and lost only three points on her first serve. She came into the tournament with a career record of 1-4 in Melbourne, but at age 28 her fortunes have been on the rise. She reached the quarterfinals at the US Open for the first time last September, and her year-end ranking was a career-best No. 58. 

The weather forecast is for mostly sunny skies and a high temperature of 33 degrees Celsius, or 91 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Sagar Biswas

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