Kenin’s reign ends

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    MELBOURNE. — Reigning champion Sofia Kenin crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round on Thursday, slumping to a 6-3 6-2 defeat at the hands of world No. 65 Kaia Kanepi on Margaret Court Arena.

    The 22-year-old, who followed her Grand Slam breakthrough at Melbourne Park last year with a run to the final at the French Open, sprayed 22 unforced errors in the 64-minute contest against the experienced Estonian.

    Kenin has been reduced to tears on court on several occasions since she came out of quarantine in Melbourne and admitted she has been struggling to contain her nerves at the prospect of defending the title.

    Kanepi, who reached the final of the Gippsland Trophy warm-up tournament last week, was just the sort of hardened veteran who would look to exploit any mental frailties in her opponent.

    The Estonian played a solid, if unspectacular, match, breaking Kenin for 3-1 in the opening set and never looking back after fending off three break points in the next game.

    “I served really well today, I think this helped a lot,” the 35-year-old said.

    “My game plan was to play aggressive as I usually do.”

    Kenin slammed her racket into the ground in frustration after losing the first set but never looked anything like the player who beat Garbine Muguruza in last year’s final. – Reuters