‘Maybe there were some tears,’ says Sofia Kenin after successful start to defence of Australian Open title

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Sofia Kenin in action

An emotional Sofia Kenin battled Maddison Inglis and her own nerves to reach the second round of the Australian Open.

Kenin, the defending champion after her breakthrough triumph 12 months ago, she admitted after a scrappy 7-5, 6-4 victory that she is still trying to work out how to handle the occasion.

The fourth seed said: “I have great memories. Obviously being on the court, obviously imagining everything, where everything was, I tried to put that aside.

“Maybe there were some tears. Eyes were a little bit wet during the match. Obviously it’s emotional. I have to handle my emotions, let off some steam before the match. As the match went, luckily it was fine.

“Towards the end, you could see I got a little bit emotional as well. Standing at the net, ‘Okay, don’t cry’.

“Obviously I don’t have any tricks because this is my first time experiencing this. I hope, obviously, that my emotions will somehow come down hopefully as the matches go. We’ll see. I cannot promise anything.”

Not since 2003, when Jennifer Capriati was beaten by Marlene Weingartner, has a women’s defending champion lost in the first round at Melbourne Park.

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Garbine Muguruza, who lost to Kenin in the final last year, was a comfortable 6-4, 6-0 winner over Margarita Gasparyan while 11th seed Belinda Bencic and former semi-finalist Elise Mertens are also through.

But Spain’s Paula Badosa capped a miserable stay in Australia with a 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 loss to Liudmila Samsonova.

Badosa endured 21 days in hard quarantine after contracting coronavirus and made no secret of how difficult she found the experience.

She was in sight of the considerable consolation of a first-round victory when she served for the match in the deciding set only for Samsonova to claim the last three games.

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