Sofia Kenin was left devastated and in tears after her defeat to Kaia Kanepi in the second round of the 2021 Australian Open as defending champion.
The 22-year-old was a surprise winner in Melbourne last year as she defeated Garbine Muguruza in the final, but she could not replicate anything like that level a year later.
Kenin's exit was swift as she lost in just 64 minutes, 6-3 6-2, to Estonia’s Kanepi on Margaret Court Arena in emphatic fashion.
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The American looked nervous and apprehensive throughout, and cut a despondent figure as she trudged off the court.
She felt no better during her post-match press conference and, with perhaps surprising candour, admitted that she simply could not cope with the pressure.
"I feel like everyone was always asking me, 'Do you see yourself getting there and winning again?'" Kenin said.
"Obviously, I said yes. But yeah, I mean, with the way I'm playing, no."
'I couldn't handle the pressure' - Tearful Kenin reacts to loss
After a brief pause in the press conference as the tearful Kenin gathered herself and opted to continue, she elaborated.
"Obviously I haven't experienced that [being the defending champion]. I felt like I wasn't there 100 per cent: physically, mentally, my game, everything," she said.
It just feels really off. Obviously, it's not good. I know I couldn't really handle the pressure.
"I'm not obviously used to this, so I've just got to figure out how to play at that level that I played at [last year]. Because like today, and those matches, it just hasn't been there.
"It's weird, I've been practising for two weeks and I felt fine in practice, but I just couldn't do that in a game."
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