A shattered Sofia Kenin has wiped away tears while admitting she caved to the pressure of defending her title.
Reigning Australian Open women’s champion Sofia Kenin has broken down in tears after her stunning second-round exit at the hands of Kaia Kanepi.
Coming into the match after a scratchy first-round performance by her high standards, Kenin was unable to get her game going, with Kanepi securing a 6-3 6-2 win.
The 22-year-old admitted the nerves and the expectation of being a defending champion got to her, wiping away tears as she spoke to the media after the loss.
“I guess it’s the outside pressure,” a teary Kenin said.
“I felt really nervous. I haven’t felt my game for, like, I don’t know how long, but I haven’t really felt my game so well, even in my first round.
“Since last year, like, I won, then obviously I feel like everyone is kind of expecting me to do that. It’s obviously tough.
“Everyone was always asking me, Would you want to? Do you see yourself getting there and winning again? Obviously I said yes, (but) with the way I’m playing, no.”
When asked about what was so different between last year’s improbable run to a title compared to this year’s second-round exit, Kenin said it was her own expectations that doomed her.
“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 a hundred and all of a sudden I won.
“I mean, I was like there, top 20 or something. I don’t even remember. Yeah, 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. Obviously didn’t, so…That’s the difference for me.”