Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi hit defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin off the court and stepped ahead for the third round.
“This year I think it helped that I got many matches in previous week, to get used to the conditions. And I also played many matches on Margaret Court. And I also played there today, so I think that also helped, to feel better,” Kanepi assessed.
Going through the achievements of Kanepi, she had won 20 of her past 22 matches coming into the contest, last week advancing to the WTA Gippsland Trophy final.
With a wonderful victory of 6-3 6-2, Kanepi put an end to No. 7-ranked Aryna Sabalenka’s 15-match winning streak and entered having won 16 of her past 17 outings, this thursday.
She had won 20 of her past 22 matches coming into the contest, last week advancing to the WTA Gippsland Trophy final. Adding to that, she had beaten 12 top-10 opponents throughout her career – seven of them at Grand Slam tournaments.
“I don’t really like comparing anymore, I have learned that playing so many years tennis,” she laughed when asked how this win rated among her other notable victories. “I’ll take one match and one tournament at a time and it all depends how I feel, and how the opponent plays and so on.
“My game plan was to play aggressive, as I normally do. I played good today, I served really good. I think it was a good win.”
Kenin admitted she was nervous about the match-up.
“After my (first-round) match, I came off court, and I looked that she was winning. Maybe kind of broke down a little bit because obviously I remember I lost to her (in our previous meeting),” she said.
“She’s obviously a tough player and she’s playing big. We’ll see how it’s going to go.” Kenin said on Thursday, tears welling in her eyes during a post-match news conference. “I was obviously way too nervous.” A moderator offered her a tissue, which she refused.
The numbers told the story of the match. Kenin committed 22 unforced errors and failed to convert any of her seven break-point opportunities.
The last woman to defend any major crown was Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016.
Kanepi moved into the third round of a major for the first time since the 2019 French Open. She will next face Croatian 28th seed Donna Vekic.