Defending Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin loses in second round

American Sofia Kenin’s bid to repeat as champion at the Australian Open ended Thursday when she lost in the second round to big-serving Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-2.

Kanepi hit 10 aces, including on match point, and had 22 winners to 10 for Kenin, who was erratic with her strokes and went 0 for 7 on break-point chances.

Kenin’s run to her first Grand Slam title a year ago helped her break into the top 10 for the first time, and she entered this year’s tournament ranked a career-high No. 4.

Lots of upsets were anticipated, however, in a tournament where routine have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and three of the top nine seeded women have already lost. Kenin joined No. 8 Bianca Andreescu and No. 9 Petra Kvitova on the sideline.

Kanepi, a 35-year-old Estonian, improved to 13-39 against top 10 players. She ended Aryna Sabalenka’s 15-match winning streak last week at a tuneup tournament.

“I served really well today,” Kanepi said. “I think this helped a lot. My game plan was to play aggressive, as I normally do.”

Serena Williams remains the last woman to defend a Grand Slam title — at Wimbledon in 2016.

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