American Sofia Kenin admitted she was “very tense” a few days before entering the defense of her title at the Australian Open, despite the fond memories awakened by her return to the Melbourne courts on Tuesday.
The world No. 4 benefited from the abandonment of the Italian Camila Giorgi to reach the round of 16 of the Yarra Valley Classic.
The 22-year-old stunned the tennis world in February 2020 when she won her first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in three sets.
She did not spend as much time on the Margaret Court Arena on Tuesday against Giorgi, the 76th player in the world, who retired due to a thigh injury after being nonetheless combative in the first round won (7 -5) by the American.
Six days before the opening of the Australian Open, the latter did not hide her nervousness.
“Of course very tense,” she answered when asked how she felt. “It is the first time that I saw the fact of having to defend my title in Grand Slam”. “But I’ll do my best and we’ll see how things go.”
The native of Moscow had confirmed last season the Australian promises by reaching the final at Roland Garros and fourth place in the world rankings.
After 14 days of quarantine during which she was able to train five hours a day with Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, Kenin said she was happy to be back in Melbourne.
“It’s really special. Super happy to be here, ”she said. “I try to manage the emotions on the court”. “I’m happy with my victory, the way I played, even though I made too many unforced errors.”
The American, who disappeared in the quarterfinals last month in Abu Dhabi when she was seeded No.1, is hoping for a little more action in the next round, to break in again.
She will face her compatriot Jessica Pegula or the German Mona Barthel in the round of 16 of the Yarra Valley Classic.