The defending champion Sofia Kenin lost at the 2021 Australian Open second round against Kaia Kanepi, with the final score of 3-6 2-6. The world number 4 lost her service three times in the game, losing in just over an hour and then abandoning the Australian throne, a year after her consecration.
A defeat that followed her disappointing start to the season. In the post match press conference, Kenin, in tears, admitted that the pressure to play as defending champion played a major role in today's defeat to Kanepi.
She said: "I felt that I was not there, my head was not there. I don't want to take away any credit from her, she played well on the important points. I have had opportunities but I have not been able to exploit them and I also know the reason, which is why the nerves have got the better of me.
I felt like everyone was asking me: Would you like to win again? Do you see yourself out there winning again? Obviously yes. But the way I played today, no. I knew I couldn't really handle the pressure.
It went well in Paris. I was under pressure there too, but not like here. I think the trip to Australia was something I always had in my eyes, something I was aiming for. I knew I would feel the pressure, the emotions, the nervousness, all together. Australian swing definitely got the better of me.
What to do now? I have no idea. I know there is a 250 starting on Saturday, then another 500 after the Australian Open. I don't really know what I'm going to do, I have to try to figure it out.
Is absurd. I trained for two weeks, I was lucky enough to be able to do it. I felt good in training, but I just couldn't replicate those feelings in the match. Obviously I'm not used to that, so I just have to figure out how to play at the level I can play at. Because today I just wasn't there."