WTA Australian Open: Kaia Kanepi dethrones Sofia Kenin. Ashleigh Barty wins



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WTA Australian Open: Kaia Kanepi dethrones Sofia Kenin. Ashleigh Barty wins

The defending champion Sofia Kenin will not fight for another Australian Open crown, suffering a heavy 6-3, 6-2 loss to Kaia Kanepi in 64 minutes. Kanepi has been known for her reliable performance at Majors, while Kenin couldn't stand the pressure on her shoulders, playing way below her best and hitting only ten winners and 22 unforced errors.

The Estonian controlled the pace with 22 winners and 17 unforced mistakes, defending all seven break points and stealing Kenin's serve thrice to race into the third round. Kaia saved three break points in the opening game and moved in front with a break at 2-1.

The lower-ranked player fended off four break opportunities in game five to confirmed the advantage, facing no troubles behind the initial shot in the rest of the encounter and closing the opener with a fine hold at 5-3.

Losing ground, the 4th seed suffered two breaks in set number two, fading from the positive scoreboard and allowing Kanepi to seal the deal with a hold at 5-2 and reach the last 32. Shelby Rogers needed an hour and 11 minutes to topple the young Serb Olga Danilovic 6-2, 6-3, barely losing a point on serve and marching over the finish line with five breaks of serve.

Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova are through to the Australian Open third round.

The 11th seed Belinda Bencic had to work hard against the Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova, beating her 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 39 minutes.

The Swiss hit 11 double faults but did enough to convert the fifth match point in the deciding set that saw seven breaks in ten games! The 6th seed Karolina Pliskova overpowered the former Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins 7-5, 6-2, losing serve thrice and producing five breaks to seal the deal in straight sets.

World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty stayed on the title course following a 6-1, 7-6 triumph over the fellow Aussie Daria Gavrilova in an hour and 32 minutes. Barty rattled off six straight games in the opener and forged a 5-2 advantage in set number two before Gavrilova won four consecutive games to turn the tables around.

Daria had two set points in the tie break, wasting them all and allowing Barty to prevail 9-7 and advance into the next round.