Australian Open 2021 LIVE updates: Thanasi Kokkinakis loses five-settter against Stefanos Tsitsipas; defending champion Sofia Kenin out; Ash Barty into third round



After a superb night of tennis headlined by Nick Kyrgios’ win, Ashleigh Barty leads the charge as we approach the end of the first week of the Australian Open.

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Sofia Kenin admits to struggling with pressure as Australian Open title defence ends


An emotional Sofia Kenin says she “couldn’t really handle the pressure” of being defending Australian Open champion after making a second-round exit at Melbourne Park.

The fourth-seeded Kenin lost 6-3, 6-2 to Kaia Kanepi in just over an hour on Margaret Court Arena on Thursday afternoon.

She was outplayed by the unseeded Estonian, who slammed down 10 aces — including one on match point — to advance to the last 32 in her 12th Australian Open appearance.

Kenin is the highest seed across both the women’s and men’s draw to be eliminated from this year’s tournament.

Her loss also marks the earliest departure of a defending women’s champion since Jennifer Capriati exited the 2003 tournament in the first round.

Kenin could not hold back tears when she addressed her post-match media conference less than an hour after her loss to Kanepi.

She said she felt too much expectation playing in the Australian Open as the reigning champion.

“Obviously I haven’t experienced that [before],” she said.

“I obviously felt like I’m not there 100 per cent physically, mentally … everything just feels real off, obviously. It’s not good.

“Because like today and those matches, it just hasn’t been there.”

Kenin ‘way too nervous’

Kenin said she struggled to play her natural game and “her head wasn’t there”.

But the 22-year-old acknowledged Kanepi deserved her win.

“She obviously played well,” Kenin said.

“I obviously felt like I couldn’t find my rhythm, I was obviously way too nervous.

“She played really well. She came up with some good shots. She obviously had a good plan against me. I just couldn’t execute my shots.”

A cap-wearing tennis player holds a big trophy after winning her first Grand Slam title.
Kenin was not considered one of the favourites when she won the Australian Open last year.(AP: Lee Jin-man)

Kenin was the 14th seed when she stormed to her first major title just over 12 months ago at Melbourne Park.

She stunned world number one and local favourite Ash Barty in the semi-finals, before defeating two-time major winner Garbiñe Muguruza in the tournament decider.

Like every player on the WTA Tour, Kenin’s 2020 season was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but she did reach the French Open final and achieved a career-high ranking of four in the world.

Kenin said it was easier to slip under the radar at last year’s Australian Open because she was not considered among the favourites to win the title.

“I just came here, I didn’t have really any expectations,” she said.

“I obviously wanted to do well. I knew I was playing well. I started having a good run and everything. It’s not like I was ranked 100 and all of a sudden, I won. I was … top 20 or something. I don’t even remember.

“I just didn’t put this much pressure on myself as this year. This year I put a lot of pressure [on myself]. I obviously felt like I was expected to do well.”

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Australian Open: Sofia Kenin starts title defence but Victoria Azarenka loses


Victoria Azarenka had played only one match since a 14-day ‘hard’ quarantine
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 8-21 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Defending champion Sofia Kenin made a nervous start to her Australian Open defence, while former winner Victoria Azarenka was knocked out after seeming to struggle with her breathing.

American Kenin was in tears before a 7-5 6-4 win over Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis.

“I felt a little bit [of] pressure,” the 22-year-old said. “I obviously am tight. I wasn’t there 100% mentally.”

Meanwhile, Azarenka needed an inhaler in a 7-5 6-4 defeat by Jessica Pegula.

The Belarusian, who won the title in 2012 and 2013 and was a US Open finalist in September, was one of the 72 players who went through a ‘hard’ quarantine after arriving in Australia where she was confined to a hotel room for 14 days.

The 12th seed had played only one match since coming out of quarantine, having pulled out of a warm-up event last week with a lower-back issue.

She made a good start, racing to a 5-2 lead, before losing five games in a row and needing two medical timeouts in the second set as she looked uncomfortable and flushed.

Azarenka declined to discuss the medical issue after the match but said of her build-up: “Was that the best preparation for me? No.

“The biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air. That really took a toll.

“I don’t know how to prepare after two weeks in quarantine. I don’t have a blueprint how to prepare. It’s all about trying to figure it out and I didn’t figure it out. Not this time.”

Kenin found it hard for different reasons, frequently struggling to keep a lid on her emotions against world number 133 Inglis as she seemed closed to tears at various points in the match.

She was broken twice in the first set to trail 3-1 before recovering and she later double-faulted on match point before making it over the line.

She admits to getting nervous before all her matches but said that having a title to defend had made it worse.

“I have to try to put my emotions aside for a match,” added Kenin, who faces Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi next.

“I have to somehow get better at that if I want to do well here.”

Kenin is joined in the next round by Garbine Muguruza, whom she beat in last year’s final, after the Spaniard’s comfortable 6-4 6-0 win over Margarita Gasparyan, while 11th seed Belinda Bencic and former semi-finalist Elise Mertens also advanced.

American 16-year-old Coco Gauff, who had a stunning run to the fourth round here last year, won her opener against Jil Teichmann 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting with Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina, who beat Marie Bouzkova 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

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Australian Open 2021 LIVE updates: Sofia Kenin through to second round as Ash Barty, Alex De Minaur prepare for matches on day two



Day two of the Australian Open continues at Melbourne Park.

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French Open final, Iga Swiatek defeats Sofia Kenin, result, reaction, ‘really hot’


Teenage phenom Iga Swiatek has become the first Polish tennis player to win a grand slam singles title.

Swiatek dominated the French Open final in Paris, defeating American rival Sofia Kenin in straight sets, 6-4 6-1.

Despite sitting at No. 54 on the WTA rankings before the tournament, the 19-year-old managed the incredible feat of winning Roland Garros without dropping a set.

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“First of all, I’m not very good at speeches, and I won my last title, like, two years ago,” Swiatek said after the match.

“I don’t know what is going on. I am so happy. And I am so glad that my family was here, finally. I don’t know, it’s crazy.

“It feels like such a short time. So yeah, I’m just overwhelmed. Thank you all for cheering. It was an amazing final.”

Kenin was obviously upset, but praised her opponent for continuing her hot streak on the biggest stage.

“Obviously a little bit disappointed and upset. She obviously played a really good match. She’s really hot right now, playing some really great tennis,” Kenin said.

“I’m not going to use this as an excuse, but my leg obviously was not the best. It’s obviously disappointing.

“I wish I would have won, but I’m just happy that I got to where I am now.”

The duo had never faced each other in a professional match before, and Kenin was overwhelmed by the young gun’s raw power, Swiatek mustering several winners with her explosive forehand.

Relatively unknown to all but tennis diehards before the French Open, Swiatek became a fan favourite in Paris as she steamrolled her way into the final, then into the record books. It’s no surprise there was an outpouring of love from the tennis world as the teenager celebrated her career highlight.

Bulgarian Victoria Azarenka tweeted: “Great job Iga Swiatek. What a tournament!!! Champ.”

America’s Madison Keys passed on her congratulations while former star Gabriela Sabatini wrote: “Congratulations @iga_swiatek it’s great to see your joy on the court, great champion! Happy to see Poland’s first GS victory.”

Tour veteran Kim Clijsters added: “What an amazing effort! Loved watching you play and be fearless. Congrats on your first!”

Past players and commentators also weighed in. Tracy Austin tweeted: “Wow!!! @iga_swiatek is such an amazing athlete — so offensive — hits so heavy — complete game already. A joy to watch — makes it look so easy. More Majors ahead!!”

Chris Evert wrote: “Congratulations @iga_swiatek. What a sterling two weeks of brilliant tennis. Many, many more GS Titles to come.”

HOW SWIATEK ACHIEVED GRAND SLAM GLORY

With a handful of spectators watching on, Kenin and Swiatek made their way onto Court Philippe-Chatrier to polite applause.

The Polish teen started the contest by holding at love, and followed up by breaking serve and taking an early 2-0 lead.

Swiatek’s powerful backhand proved a valuable asset during the opening passages of the match, the 19-year-old rarely making an error on the clay.

After winning 12 of the first 15 points in the match, Swiatek held serve to go 3-0 after just eight minutes.

New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey tweeted: “Iga Swiatek playing her first Grand Slam final like she’s playing a practice match against a hitting partner.”

Kenin finally got on the board in her second service game, before breaking Swiatek’s serve in a dramatic shift in momentum.

With scores locked at 3-3 in the first set, the American had landed 78 per cent of her first serves in, while Swiatek had only managed 50 per cent.

The seventh game went to deuce twice, but Swiatek managed to hold serve with a few well-directed drop shots, despite another double fault creeping into her game.

But Swiatek then managed to break serve once again to secure a 5-3 advantage with her serve to come.

The 19-year-old botched a set point at 40-30, and Kenin kept herself in the contest by winning the next three points and bringing the set back on serve.

But Swiatek rallied to secure another two set points in the following game, and broke serve to ensure she was one set away from a maiden grand slam title.

Radio presenter Lexis Bill tweeted: “You’d have thought the French Open finals will be a walk in the park for Sofia Kenin but Swiatek is mean! What a game they’re serving us.”

Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg posted: “This final is already much, MUCH better than last year’s French Open women’s final, which was an all-time dud.”

As she has done throughout the tournament, Kenin took a lengthy break after losing the opening set.

But when play resumed in Paris, both competitors played a dynamic brand of tennis, each delivering several powerful winners.

Kenin immediately broke serve to get her second set off to a flyer, but the relentless Swiatek managed to do the same from the other end, bringing the set back on serve.

The American became agitated as the match progressed, sporadically yelling, shaking her head and throwing her arms in the air.

Kenin was spotted kicking her racquet, and her father was also heard yelling at the Australian Open champion from the stands.

New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey tweeted: “Kenin’s go-to shot, her backhand, is breaking down more than usual today. Perhaps a combo of final pressure and heavy Swiatek groundstrokes but it’s got to change if Kenin is going to push this match into a third.”

After consulting a medic about her heavily-strapped thigh, Kenin briefly left the court at 2-1in the second set for a medical time out.

The three-minute break didn’t help Kenin, who conceded a 3-1 lead when Swiatek quickly broke serve.

Continuing that momentum, the Polish teen then held serve at love, and was suddenly just two games away from a maiden French Open title.

Swiatek then broke serve once again — the game only lasting about two minutes — and the result seemed inevitable.

A few minutes later, a forehand winner secured Swiatek’s maiden grand slam singles title.

After the final point, Kenin sat by herself in tears on the court as Swiatek celebrated the historic victory with her family.

“I just want to congratulate eager and a great tournament, a great match. You played really well. Congratulations to you and your team,” Kenin said after the match.

“I would like to thank the crowd. It is finally good to see you guys with his whole pandemic. So thank you so much for your support and supporting me these past weeks. It really means a lot.”

As Swiatek lifted the Suzanne-Lenglen Cup, the Polish national anthem blared around the stadium, the first time ever at a grand slam final.



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Polish teenager Iga Swiatek beats Sofia Kenin without dropping a set to win French Open title



With the poise of a veteran and the shots of a champion, 19-year-old Iga Swiatek picked the perfect place for her first tour-level title: the French Open.

Unseeded and ranked merely 54th, Swiatek grabbed the last six games to beat Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 in the final at Roland Garros on Saturday, becoming the first Polish tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles trophy.

When she smacked one last forehand winner to the corner to end things, Swiatek placed her right hand over her mouth then crouched, shaking her head.

Hard to believe? Maybe.

This was, after all, only her seventh major tournament; she’d never been past the fourth round.

But the way she played these two weeks made this outcome less of a surprise.

Swiatek is the first woman to triumph in Paris without ceding a set since Justine Henin in 2007.

And she did it with victories over such opponents as 2018 champion Simona Halep and 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, both by scores of 6-1, 6-2.

So it made sense that Swiatek would be able to get past Kenin, a 21-year-old American who was trying to claim her second major title of 2020 after winning the Australian Open in February.

Kenin was 16-1 in Grand Slam matches until Saturday.

But she dealt with a leg issue in the second set and showed frustration by kicking her red-white-and-blue racket after lost points.

And then she ran into the composed Swiatek, who only recently completed her high school studies, listens to “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses before walking on court and meditates during changeovers, breathing slowly with her eyes closed.

This weekend is the culmination of an unusual two weeks, to say the least.

The tournament was postponed form May-June to September-October because of the coronavirus pandemic; the recently rising number of COVID-19 cases in France led the Government to limit the number of spectators allowed on the grounds to 1,000 each day.

Some top women, including 2019 champion Ash Barty and three-time major champ Naomi Osaka did not enter the event; 23-time Slam winner Serena Williams withdrew before the second round with an injury.

The temperature was about 14 degrees Celsius with a slight breeze, and the hundreds of fans scattered in Court Philippe Chatrier were mostly subdued — other than a group that would shout out Swiatek’s first name, stretching it out over several seconds each time.

At the changeover after the third game of the second set, Kenin was visited by a trainer and went off the court for a medical timeout, then returned with her left thigh wrapped.

Kenin said after her fourth-round match on Monday that she had slipped and maybe pulled something during practice the day before.

While Kenin was gone, Swiatek tried to stay warm by pulling on a white jacket and hitting some serves, earning applause from spectators.

When play resumed, Swiatek needed only 12 more minutes to wrap up the victory, finishing with a 25-10 edge in winners.

AP



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French Open final live blog, Sofia Kenin vs Iga Swiatek, score, result


After two weeks of enthralling tennis in Paris, one of the sport’s rising stars will claim their maiden Roland Garros title tonight.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin will face teenage phenom Iga Swiatek for the French Open women’s singles title, which was last year won by Australia’s Ash Barty.

Swiatek is yet to drop a set in the grand slam, including her crushing victory over top-seeded Simona Halep in the fourth round. Incredibly, she hasn’t dropped more than four games in any set during the tournament.

The 19-year-old currently sits at No. 54 in the WTA rankings, and had previously never qualified beyond the fourth round of a grand slam tournament. She is also the first Polish woman to feature in a French Open final since 1939.

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Meanwhile, after toppling Czech superstar Petra Kvitova in the semi-final, Kenin will be eager to secure her second singles title of the year.

Swiatek and Kenin have never faced each other in a professional match before tonight, proving why this is one of the most unpredictable Roland Garros finals in a generation.

The final is scheduled to commence at 12am on Sunday morning (AEDT).

ROUTE TO THE FINAL

Iga Swiatek

R1 — defeated Vondrousova 6-1, 6-2

R2 — defeated Hsieh 6-1, 6-4

R3 — defeated Bouchard 6-3, 6-2

R4 — defeated Halep 6-1, 6-2

QF — defeated Trevisan 6-3, 6-1

SF — defeated Podoroska 6-2, 6-1

Sofia Kenin

R1 — defeated Samsonova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

R2 — defeated Bogdan 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

R3 — defeated Bara 6-2, 6-0

R4 — defeated Ferro 2-6, 6-2, 6-1

QF — defeated Collins 6-4, 4-6, 6-0

SF — defeated Kvitova 6-4, 7-5



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French Open 2020: Sofia Kenin to play teenager Iga Swiatek in final


Iga Swiatek’s previous best performances at Grand Slams came at the 2019 French Open and this year’s Australian Open where she reached the fourth round

The French Open women’s final will be contested between Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin and Polish teenager Iga Swiatek after two contrasting displays in their semi-finals.

Swiatek, 19, needed only 70 minutes to beat Argentine Nadia Podoroska 6-2 6-1 to reach her first major final.

American Kenin, 21, overcame Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova 6-4 7-5.

Fourth seed Kenin produced controlled tennis but had to save 10 break-points against the two-time Wimbledon winner.

She has yet to play Swiatek on the main tour, but faced each other on the same stage in the juniors four years ago.

“I lost, but it was a close one,” said Kenin.

“Sofia is on fire this year,” said Swiatek after her win over world number 131 Podoroska. “I don’t want to think about it – I’m just happy I’m in the final.”

‘It’s like a dream come true’ – Kenin

Having overwhelmed Romanian top seed Simona Halep in the fourth round, Swiatek will not fear Melbourne champion Kenin.

Kenin defended brilliantly against Kvitova and will have to produce a repeat performance against a Swiatek forehand which at times reached 80mph-plus against Podoroska. The teenager produced 11 groundstroke winners on that side, out of a total of 22.

Podoroska, the first qualifier in the Open era to reach the French Open women’s semi-finals, also has a strong forehand side but was never given a chance to get into her rhythm.

The 23-year-old’s only bright moment came in the fifth game of the second set when she broke the Pole, although she needed four bites at it. Swiatek broke back straight away before serving out for victory at a cold and breezy Philippe Chatrier.

“I’m surprised,” Swiatek said of her run to the final. “But I always knew if I was going to reach a Grand Slam final it would be the French Open. It’s like a dream come true.

“I wanted to play this match as if it was the first round. I didn’t want to think it was a semi-final because it would have stressed me out.”

Swiatek is only the second woman from Poland to reach the final at Roland Garros – the last was Jadwiga Jedrzejowska, who finished runner-up in 1939.

Consistent Kenin sees off cavalier Kvitova

The second semi-final was a contest between an American player, who played a game of percentages and the Czech, who went for broke with her groundstrokes. Kvitova produced more winners (28-23), but also made more errors (31-20) than her opponent.

The experienced Kvitova, a semi-finalist in 2012 who has never reached the final, was a double-break down in the opening set. She stated that she felt nervous before her quarter-final match against Laura Siegemund, and that appeared the case in the early exchanges on Philippe Chatrier.

The two-time Wimbledon champion got one break back in the sixth game, which featured one extraordinary moment when she turned her back to celebrate thinking she had won the point before having to react to Kenin’s shot that had crept over the net. She then had a second chance to break, but the Australian Open champion produced two brilliant serves to get herself out of trouble en route to taking the set.

A fifth opportunity to break the Kenin serve presented itself in the fourth game of the second set, but an error cost the Czech. A game later more errors handed her 21-year-old opponent break-point, which was taken with a forehand winner.

The 30-year-old finally broke back at a crucial moment, when nerves crept into Kenin’s game as she served for the match. But from despair it was delight as the American let out a yell when she broke back straight away, before finally getting over the line.

“Petra is such a tough player,” added Kenin. “She’s got an aggressive game and a huge serve. I’m super proud of myself.

“It was a great match and I’m so happy.”



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Fourth seed Sofia Kenin moves through to the semi-finals in Paris


“This is really special, I’m super happy. I know she plays really aggressive so I needed to have a better first serve percentage and play aggressive myself; I did a great job overall,” said Kenin, who has won four of her five matches at Roland Garros in three sets.

“I guess I like winning in three sets. I know it’s tough but I’m getting the job done.”

Sofia Kenin beat fellow American Danielle Collins in three sets on Wednesday.Credit:AP

After a solid start on both sides, Collins served a woeful double fault to hand Kenin the first break of the match, and a 3-2 lead.

She held serve and set up another break point at 4-2, but Collins saved it to stay in contention.

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Kenin was, however, solid on her service games and she bagged the opening set when her opponent’s return sailed wide.

It was the first time Kenin had taken a set from Collins in four encounters, and the fourth seed kept her momentum, breaking again for 3-2 in the second set as her unseeded opponent smacked a forehand long.

But this time, Collins hit back to level for 3-3 and she started to threaten Kenin’s serve, eventually breaking again to level.

The comeback was short-lived, though, as Collins quickly fell 4-0 behind in the decider before taking a medical timeout, holding her midriff as she went off the court for treatment.

Kenin easily won the remaining two games.

“I felt like I was kind of a little bit off with my shots. Sometimes just going for it and just wasn’t working for me today,” said Collins, who suffered from an abdominal injury earlier this year.

“She played well. Obviously there is a physical ailment, but I don’t want that to take away from the great tennis that she was playing.”

The second quarter-final of the day was marred by minor controversy, with Siegemund receiving a time violation warning for slow service on a crucial point against two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova.

To hasten the pace of play, the chair umpire currently starts a 25-second clock following the completion of a point.

Siegemund stretched her back couple of times while saving three break points from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the second set when chair umpire Marijana Veljovic served her a time violation during her service motion.

Petra Kvitova crusied to victory over Laura Siegemund.

Petra Kvitova crusied to victory over Laura Siegemund.Credit:Getty Images

The world No.66 argued with Veljovic before her service was broken. Siegemund eventually went on to lose the match 6-3, 6-3.

The German said she was known for being generally slow with her serve but some umpires are lenient on the point they start the serve clock.

“As far as I know, the rule is before the clock goes to zero I have to start my movement. She is very sharp every time I have her on the chair. She gives me a violation the first opportunity she gets,” Siegemund told reporters.

“So it makes a big difference when they press the button when the clock is running and I think that is where the rule is very unprecise.

“When the clock is zero and I’m starting my movement, then give me a break. If every time I need 40 seconds, that’s a different thing. But this was just exaggerated.”

While Siegemund was not too bothered about it, she felt the warning was like an elbow jab and called it “a joke”.

“I’m trying my best to be faster. And I think I am also much faster than I was in the past,” she said.

“Be a little more gentle in the way you interpret the rules. But if she want to give me a time violation, that’s OK.”

Reuters

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Kenin recovers from sluggish start to reach French open last eight



Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – October 5, 2020 Sofia Kenin of the U.S. in action during her fourth round match against France’s Fiona Ferro REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

October 5, 2020

(Reuters) – American fourth seed Sofia Kenin recovered from a wobbly start to reach the French open quarter-finals with a 2-6 6-2 6-1 victory against France’s Fiona Ferro on Monday.

The Australian Open champion, who next faces Compatriot Danielle Collins or Tunisian Ons Jabeur, broke into tears after ending the contest with a service return winner.

It took Kenin a while to find her range but once she did, she went through the gears and demolished the world number 49, the last French player in the seniors draws.

“She played really well, she’s such a tough player to play. Sorry I had to win but I’m just super proud of myself,” said Kenin.

Kenin broke Ferro’s first service game and moved 2-0 up, only for the Frenchwoman to win six games in a row to bag the opening set, greatly helped by her opponent’s 16 unforced errors.

Kenin, however, took the ball earlier in the second set, which changed the face of the match as Ferro could not keep up with the American’s pace.

“I was making too many errors in the first and I knew I needed to be more aggressive and go for my shots,” Kenin said.

Her aggressiveness was just too much to handle for Ferro, who then never looked able to turn the tide.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)





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