Heather Watson loses in round two as the draw opens up for World No 1 Ash Barty after champion Sofia Kenin crashes out, while Stefanos Tsitsipas brings the latest thrills to Melbourne: Five talking points from day four of the Australian Open
- Sofia Kenin blamed her nerves for her shock second round loss to Kaia Kanepi
- The result is good for Ash Barty, who beat Daria Gavrilova to make round three
- Meanwhile, Stefanos Tsitsipas was serving up a thriller with Thanasi Kokkinakis
There has been another day of drama at the Australian Open, this time with a shock in the women’s side of the draw.
Nerves got the better of defending champions Sofia Kenin, who produced error-strewn display in her defeat by Kaia Kanepi in a result that boosts world No 1 Ash Barty. Meanwhile, Britain’s Heather Watson was knocked out in the second round while there was a thriller between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Here, Sportsmail reflects on some of the latest talking points from day four.
Sofia Kenin Out
Defending champion, and fourth seed, Sofia Kenin was close to tears after her shock second round loss to Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.
Expectancy and nerves proved too much for the 22-year-old who was red faced and upset in her post match media conference.
‘I couldn’t really handle the pressure,’ she said. ‘I was way too nervous, I couldn’t find my rhythm. My head wasn’t there.’
Nerves got the better of Sofia Kenin as she was beaten by Kaia Kanepi in round two
The surprise result of the tournament came just after 3pm on Margaret Court Arena when Kanepi, ranked 65, powered her way past the 22-year-old American who looked well short of match fitness in her 6-3, 6-3 defeat.
Kenin refused to take any credit away from the 35-year-old Kanepi who blasted 10 aces to just one from Kenin who only hit 10 winners throughout the match. World number one Ash Barty will be buoyed by Kenin’s early departure – they are in the same half of the draw – but declined to get involved.
‘It doesn’t affect me whatsoever,’ she said diplomatically.
Ash Barty Makes It Through
Barty meanwhile will need to sharpen her focus pronto to challenge for the women’s title after a languid, 6-1, 7-6 win over compatriot Daria Gavrilova.
A large bandage wrapped around Barty’s left thigh was nothing to worry about she said and was ‘a little bit of support only’.
Barty, who reached the semi-final at Melbourne Park last year at the first time in seven attempts, toiled to dispose of an energetic Gavrilova who was returning from a long injury lay off and is ranked 387.
Maybe her loss of concentration in the second set was down to over-familiarity, the two are pals and Gavrilova was tutored for a couple of years by Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer.
Kenin’s departure means the draw opens up for World No 1 Ash Barty, who won on Thursday
More intimacy came in the on-court interview post match where Barty was quizzed by her former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua who revealed it was her (36th) birthday. ‘My present to you is for the crowd to sing happy birthday,’ said Barty, cue a mass serenade.
Not Rod Laver Arena’s finest moment, but heartfelt.
Heather Watson Out In Three Sets
Another Estonian to progress to the third round is 21st seed Anett Kontaveit who saw off former British number one Heather Watson who was playing in her 10th consecutive Australian Open.
A committed Watson looked as if she might pull off an upset when she clinched the 54 minute first set on the John Cain Arena show court but was unable to prevent Kontaveit progressing in just over two hours.
Momentum shifted back and forth in the 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 battle with Knotaveit thrilled to have made it through. ‘It was an extremely close match,’ she said.
British hopes for Heather Watson have faded after he second round loss to Anett Kontaveit
Stefanos Tsitsipas In a Thrilller
Along with Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas brings along the most vocal and passionate support to the Open. Much is local – Melbourne boasts the largest Greek speaking population outside Greece – but chanting and colour was initially lacking on Rod Laver Arena for the clash between the fifth seed and Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis, who boasts a similar heritage.
Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka was spotted in the best seats for a match where the 267 ranked Kokkinakis took the opening set to briefly threaten an upset before Tsitsipas settled to take the next two sets. Remarkably the Aussie then levelled on a fourth set tie-break. Tensions and noise are all around as the final set gets underway,
Stefanos Tsitsipas is a favourite in Australia and brings similar drama to Nick Kyrgios
There was extra drama too when late in the fourth set, Tsitsipas was handed a warning for coaching by umpire Renaud Lichtenstein. The TV cameras immediately focused on Patrick Mouratoglou who helps coach the Greek in tandem with his father, Apostolos.
Mouratoglou famously is the coach who was warned for illicitly helping Serena Williams in her 2018 US Open final that she lost to Naomi Osaka and which promoted a guttural and prolonged outburst by Williams.
Kokkinakis, should he feel up to it, is due to team up with Nick Kyrgios for a doubles match later on Thursday on the rowdy court three. Expect more fireworks.
Hot… and wet
It’s all change with the weather again. Melbourne is famous as the ‘four seasons in one day’ city and today has already brought wind (’swirly’ on Rod Laver Arena said Ash Barty), sunshine and 32 degrees at midday. Not to mention a humidity which is unusual for Victoria.
Heavy rain though is forecast for late Thursday and organisers will be hoping the low crowds – queues at almost every checkpoint or kiosk are still non existent – receive a much needed boost with clear weather forecast at the weekend.
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