Reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin crashed out of Melbourne in the second-round on Thursday, after she lost against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. But, top-ranked player Ashleigh Barty made her way to the third round against Daria Gavrilova in a tense second set tiebreaker to reach the last 16.
Kenin struggled to meet expectations in her maiden Grand Slam title defence and got emotional after a tough opening-round win on Tuesday. “I felt like I wasn’t there, my head wasn’t there,” a teary-eyed Kenin admitted later.
On Thursday, the world number four player shed more tears at the Margaret Court Arena after her 6-3, 6-2 defeat in just 64 minutes to the Estonian world no 65, and became the highest ranked player to make an exit from the tournament.
Meanwhile, world number one Ashleigh Barty left her friendship aside with a straight sets win over her Fed Cup teammate Daria Gavrilova but lost focus serving for the match before closing out the game with a 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) win. Though, Barty’s left thigh was trapped but she won easily against 387th-ranked Gavrilova.
“This isn’t very subtle,” Barty said referring to the bandage. “I’m as fit as a fiddle.”When you play another Aussie, rankings go out of the window, so it was always going to be a tricky match.”
Later Thursday, Rafael Nadal will test his sore back again as he chases a record 21st Grand Slam crown.
The ailing Spanish second seed had to modify his service action during a straight-sets cruise past Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the first round.
He will round off the night session on Rod Laver Arena against American qualifier Michael Mmoh, having never lost a match at the Australian Open to a player ranked as low as the world number 177.
Rafael Nadal, after he pulled out of the ATP Cup last week said that “My back is not perfect. Every day that I’m able to go through, probably there are more chances to be better.”
Before that match, teenage sensation Coco Gauff was looking for her latest big-name scalp in the prime-time evening slot at the Rod Laver Arena.
The potential victim this time is Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina, who will be all too aware that Gauff knocked out Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka on her way to the fourth round a year ago at the age of 15.