Tearful Kenin out of Australian Open, Barty reaches third round | Daily News

Tearful Kenin out of Australian Open, Barty reaches third round

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty hits a return against Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their women’s singles match on day four of the Australian Open on Thursday. - AFP
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty hits a return against Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their women’s singles match on day four of the Australian Open on Thursday. - AFP

Melbourne, Thursday: Defending champion Sofia Kenin exited the Australian Open in tears on Thursday as world number one Ashleigh Barty negotiated a sticky moment to reach the third round.

Coco Gauff, 16, lost to Elina Svitolina, Stefanos Tsitsipas went the distance with Thanasi Kokkinakis and Fabio Fognini also needed five sets against fellow Italian Salvatore Caruso -- a match that ended in a furious row.

With Rafael Nadal resuming his quest for the all-time Grand Slam titles record in the night match, Kenin and Barty topped the day-time bill -- but their matches had very different outcomes.

Self-imposed pressure has weighed heavily on Kenin, 22, the world number four who was defending a Grand Slam title for the first time.

And after an emotional first-up win over wildcard Maddison Inglis, Kenin met her match in the in-form Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who won 6-3, 6-2.

“I know I couldn’t really handle the pressure,” said an emotional and red-eyed Kenin, who wiped away tears during her press conference.

While the American became just the third defending champion since 1970 to fail to reach the third round, Barty lifted hopes of a first Australian winner since 1978.

Playing with her left thigh heavily strapped, the top seed twice failed to serve out the win before ousting her 387th-ranked compatriot Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 7-6 (9/7).

Barty, who is unbeaten in seven matches after sitting out nearly all of last year, blamed the lapse on ring-rust.

“I haven’t played a lot of tennis over the last 12 months. Obviously going to have ebbs and flows not only in concentration but level of play as well,” said the Aussie, dismissing any injury concerns. “I’m as fit as a fiddle,” she said. - AFP