Sofia Kenin admitted she ‘couldn’t handle the pressure’ as her Australian Open title defence ended in the second round.
The American was a surprise winner last year, but she has since backed up her Grand Slam credentials by reaching the French Open final.
However, she looked a pale shadow of her usual self as she fell to a 6-3, 6-2 defeat to world number 65 Kaia Kanepi on Thursday.
“I obviously felt like I couldn’t find my rhythm,” Kenin explained. “I was obviously way too nervous
“I guess it’s like the outside pressure. But I felt really nervous.
“I haven’t felt my game for I don’t know how long, but I haven’t really felt my game so well, even in my first round.
“I feel like everyone was always asking me, ‘Would you want to? Do you see yourself getting there and winning again?’ Obviously I said yes.
“I know I couldn’t really handle the pressure. I’m not obviously used to this, so right now I just got to figure out how to play at that level that I played at.”
There was better news for sixth seed Karolina Pliskova, as she easily overcame American Danielle Collins 7-5, 6-2.
Meanwhile, 11th seed Belinda Bencic also made it into round three, although she wasn’t entirely happy with her game.
“I wasn’t feeling great tennis-wise,” Bencic said after her 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“I’m still not where I want to be but I try to show my heart, try to fight as much as I can, even if I sometimes get angry.
“Just happy to be through and hopefully I can improve in the next round.”
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