'Can't believe it': Australian Open champ in 'terrible' drama

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Sofia Kenin, pictured here after losing to Sofia Kenin at the Australian Open.
Sofia Kenin's staggering form slump continued at the Australian Open. Image: Australian Open/AAP

Tennis fans and commentators were left stunned on Monday when Sofia Kenin's extraordinary fall from grace continued at the Australian Open.

Kenin won the Australian Open in 2020, beating Ash Barty in the semi-finals as she climbed to a career-high ranking of World No.4.

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She also made the French Open final that year, but has suffered a staggering form slump since.

The American is set to drop to World No.91 after a first-round exit at Melbourne Park on Monday.

The 11th-seeded Kenin was beaten by compatriot Madison Keys 7-6 (2), 7-5, continuing her baffling freefall.

“It’s not easy, but it’s just a number," Kenin said of her ranking.

"It doesn’t change who I am. I’m still that person who everyone respects very much.

“Obviously, it’s not the best news. ... But I don’t have a doubt I can get back there.”

Keys, also a former top 10 player who reached the Australian Open semi-finals in 2015, used 16 aces to extend her recent run of success after winning the Adelaide International title last week.

Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin, pictured here shaking hands after their clash at the Australian Open.
Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin shake hands after their clash at the Australian Open. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“Just some unforced errors and some forced errors - because Maddy forced them. I was right there. It’s disappointing,” Kenin said.

“It’s a little bit of a bummer.”

Kenin missed the majority of the second half 2021 because of a foot injury and a bout with Covid-19.

Her ranking has remained as high as it has thanks in large part to the points she earned by winning the trophy at the Australian Open two years ago.

But after a second-round loss in 2021, she now departs even earlier, leaving the tennis world baffled.

Paula Badosa a dark horse to win Australian Open?

Elsewhere on Monday night, Paula Badosa ended Ajla Tomljanovic's Australian Open campaign in a 6-4 6-0 thrashing of the home hope.

Five days after losing to Badosa in straight sets at the Sydney Tennis Classic, Tomljanovic fell short in a bruising first set, then was thoroughly outclassed by the World No.8 in a 24-minute second set.

Tomljanovic, Australia's No.2 behind Ash Barty, had heavy strapping on her thigh and both players had treatment when Badosa, who had shoulder strapping, called a medical timeout in the first set.

"I knew I had to go for my shots," Badosa said.

"I'm a little bit exhausted but it goes how it goes."

World No.1 Barty, Japanese titleholder Naomi Osaka, fourth-seeded French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, fifth seed Maria Sakkari and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Belinda Bencic all swept to straight-sets wins on Monday.

But it was Sakkari making the loudest noises following her 6-4 7-6 (7-2) victory over German Tatjana Maria in the first match of the Open on Rod Laver Arena.

"Last year I lost in the first round and then I finished the year in the top 10 so things can change in a week," the Greek said.

"I never used to believe that I belonged but I started working a lot in my mind, on how I can get all these negative thoughts and all this pressure away from me.

"Of course, you can never do like a hundred per cent what you're trying to do, trying to achieve, but you can improve.

"I proved myself that I have a strong mind. Yeah, I proved it on court actually."

with agencies

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