Australian Open Day 4: Rafael Nadal wins after laughing off heckler, Sofia Kenin bounced in straight sets

Liz Roscher and Jack Baer
·4 min read
Sofia Kenin of the US leaves after losing against Estonia's Kaia Kanepi during their women's singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 11, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Last year's Australian Open champ is out of the tournament. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

The Australian Open has its first big upset. But it didn't look like an upset at all.

Defending champion Sofia Kenin, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, fell in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in the second round.

Kanepi was dominant throughout, but Kenin simply had no answer for her serve. The 35-year-old finished with 10 aces while winning 80% of first-serve points; she also had more winners (22-10) and fewer unforced errors (17-22).

It was the second straight match in which Kenin came out looking flat, needing to rally in the first round against Maddison Inglis, ranked No. 130 in the world. Kenin had previously admitted to recent struggles with the mental side of the game while also saying a groin injury sustained before the tournament had cleared up; whatever the problem was, it was clear she was off.

Kanepi, who has four WTA tournament wins in her career and is also known for upsetting Simona Halep in the 2018 US Open, will now advance to third round, where No. 28 seed Donna Vekic awaits.

Top seed Ash Barty holds off countrywoman

The difficulty picked up in the second set, but top seed Ash Barty is moving on.

The WTA No. 1 defeated fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) to advance to the third round of the tournament, where she will face No. 29 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Barty dominated the first set, breaking Gavrilova in all three return games and winning every second-serve return point. She faltered a bit from there, recording 26 unforced errors in the second set, but emerged victorious in a tiebreaker for the win.

Once it was all over, Barty's priority was pushing the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to interviewer Casey Dellacqua:

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 11: Rafael Nadal of Spain laughs at a spectator in his Men's Singles second round match against Michael Mmoh of the United States during day four of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 11, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal laughed off a heckler who was eventually ejected from the arena. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal not shaken by heckler, defeats Michael Mmoh

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal had no problems with his back in his Round 2 match, beating American Michael Mmoh 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in 1 hour and 47 minutes. He also had no problems with a heckler who made such a production that she had to be ejected rom Rod Laver Arena, though she obviously had a problem with him.

At the end of the second set, a woman in the crowd appeared to take issue with Nadal's on-court process. She gave him the finger, which Nadal thought was hilarious.

Then the woman started really disrupting the proceedings, and security walked over to speak with her.

The woman was eventually escorted from the arena while Nadal continued to laugh.

And then he continued playing like nothing had happened.

More top players advance

Kenin's early exit appears to be the outlier so far among the top players. No. 5 Elina Svitolina, who made it to the quarterfinals in 2019, sent American Coco Gauff home with a 6-4, 6-3 victory. No. 6 Karolina Pliskova also beat an American, Danielle Collins, and still has a chance to equal or improve on her 2019 semifinals appearance with her 7-5, 6-2 victory.

Over on the men's side, No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Thursday, had to fight off a second set surge from Roberto Carballes Baena before beating him 6-2, 7-5, 6-1.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, ranked fifth, battled hard against lively Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis in a match that lasted four hours and 32 minutes. Kokkinakis, wearing a $6 Kmart shirt, stole the show with his gritty performance, but Tsitsipas pulled through with a final line of 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-4.

Can you tell that Kokkinakis is a frequent sparring partner of fellow countryman Nick Kyrgios?

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