"My game wasn't there 100% physically, mentally...my game just felt off," WTA's no. 4 player Sofia Kenin sadly said after her loss of 6-3, 6-2 to Kai Kanepi at the Australian Open. The first set seems to hav speeded past Kenin tht Kanepi had cross court, down-the-lines and volley winners that the defending champ just couldn't control.
The Estonian had won the first set in a bit over a half hour leaving Kenin stunned and unable to put in the winning shots that she was accustomed to doing. "She obviously had a good plan against me and I couldn't execute my shots."
Kenin had given the explanation for the surprised loss too soon in Melbourne
But it was during press conference time, an emotionally disgusted and sad Kenin explained the difference that a year made, helping her to evaluate what did happen.
"Last year, I didn't have any expectations..." she'd said. The atmosphere was free-wheeling and oftentimes spontaneity was a good thing. It was in order of just playing the best you can and seeing what happens.
But this is the time of the Pandemic and that might have accounted for the main thing that caused Kenin's loss of gameplay momentum. "This year I felt like a lot of pressure...I felt like I was expected to do well...I obviously didn't..."
What Sofia Kenin didn't mention either was the pressure of playing tennis in 'a bubble' Constant testing, quarantine periods and feeling hampered in a hotel room could have well made the difference in mental and physical attitude.
Last year around March things changed for everyone when the coronavirus swept the world. But everyone was affected and most didn't play until five months later, giving themselves a chance to resurface into the tour.
Kenin had won the 2020 Australian Open, was a finalist of the French Open and won the Lyon Open in France. She was also named the WTA Player of the Year. But that was then. Kenin just summed it up that "I couldn't handle the pressure" of being a defending player.
It was obvious to her that "I couldn't find my rhythm" This is the first slam of the season and Sofia Kenin gave a little smile and smirk saying that "the Aussie swing obviously got to me"