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Kenin out, Barty just getting started at Australian Open

  • Published at 04:39 pm February 11th, 2021
Kenin
The USA's Sofia Kenin returns against Estonia's Kaia Kanepi during their Australian Open second round match in Melbourne Thursday Reuters

With Nadal resuming his quest for the all-time Grand Slam titles record later, Kenin and Barty topped the day-time bill - but their matches had very different outcomes

Defending champion Sofia Kenin exited the Australian Open in tears Thursday as world No 1 Ashleigh Barty negotiated a sticky moment to reach the third round.

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also survived a five-set marathon with Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis, a close friend of showman Nick Kyrgios, to maintain his hopes of a first major win.

With Rafael Nadal resuming his quest for the all-time Grand Slam titles record later, Kenin and Barty topped the day-time bill - but their matches had very different outcomes.

Self-imposed pressure has weighed heavily on Kenin, 22, the world No 4 who was defending a Grand Slam title for the first time.

And after an emotional first-round win over wildcard Maddison Inglis, Kenin met her match in the in-form Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who ousted the American 6-3, 6-2.

While Kenin became just the third defending champion since 1970 to fail to reach the third round, Barty further lifted hopes of a first Australian winner since 1978.

Playing with her left thigh heavily strapped, the top seed twice failed to serve out the win before ousting her 387th-ranked compatriot Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 7-6 (9/7).

Eight-time champion Novak Djokovic was made to sweat at the Australian Open on Wednesday as Serena Williams made serene progress in her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title

Posted by Sports Tribune on Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Barty, who is unbeaten in seven matches after sitting out nearly all of last year, blamed the lapse on ring-rust.

Elsewhere, world No 192 Mackenzie McDonald beat Borna Coric 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to hand the Croatian 22nd seed the biggest upset of his career.

McDonald, 25, became the lowest-ranked tour-level winner against Coric, a US Open quarter-finalist last year, and reaches a Grand Slam third round for only the second time.

Later, Tsitsipas was not expected to be troubled by 267th-ranked Kokkinakis but the Aussie, roared on by Kyrgios, saved a fourth-set match point before going down 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4.

Spain's Feliciano Lopez, 39, was also taken five sets in his record-extending 75th consecutive Grand Slam before beating Italy's Lorenzo Sonego 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic had few problems in beating American Danielle Collins, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago, 7-5, 6-2.

Swiss 12th seed Belinda Bencic was pushed harder by veteran Russian Svetlana Kutznetsova before coming through 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in 2hr 39min.

Rafael Nadal's injured back didn't slow his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title Tuesday, as women's world No 1 Ashleigh Barty romped to a 6-0, 6-0 "double bagel" at the Australian Open.

Posted by Sports Tribune on Wednesday, 10 February 2021

And Russian rising star Andrey Rublev maintained his unbeaten start to the year with a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) victory over Brazil's Thiago Monteiro. 

Later Thursday, 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 No 177.

Before that match, teenage sensation Coco Gauff is looking for her latest big-name scalp in the prime-time evening slot on Rod Laver Arena.

The potential victim this time is Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina, who will be all too aware that last year Gauff, then 15, knocked out Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka on her way to the fourth round.

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