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Australian Open 2021: Sofia Kenin vs Kaia Kanepi preview, head-to-head & prediction

Sofia Kenin at the 2021 WTA 500 Yarra Valley Classic
Sofia Kenin at the 2021 WTA 500 Yarra Valley Classic
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 09 Feb 2021
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Match details

Fixture: (4) Sofia Kenin vs Kaia Kanepi

Date: 11 February 2021

Tournament: Australian Open 2021

Round: Second round (Round of 64)

Venue: Melbourne, Australia

Category: Grand Slam

Surface: Outdoor hardcourt

Prize money: AUD 80 million

Live telecast: India - Sony Six | USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel

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Sofia Kenin vs Kaia Kanepi preview

Defending champion Sofia Kenin takes on tour veteran Kaia Kanepi in the second round of the 2021 Australian Open on Thursday.

Following a relatively poor start to the season - where she lost back-to-back quarterfinals in Abu Dhabi and the Australian Open tune-up - Kenin kicked off her title defence in Melbourne in style. The World No. 4 got past a tricky opponent in compatriot Madison Inglis 7-5 6-4 to set up the second-round encounter against Kanepi.

Kaia Kanepi at the 2021 WTA 500 Gippsland Trophy
Kaia Kanepi at the 2021 WTA 500 Gippsland Trophy

Kanepi is far from an unknown figure on the WTA tour, having reached a remarkable six Slam quarterfinals during the course of her career that has now spanned over two decades. The 35-year-old is in great form right now too, having ended Aryna Sabalenka's 15-match winning streak last week on the way to reaching the final of the Gippsland Trophy.

At the Australian Open, Kanepi eased past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-1 to set up the second-round meeting with Kenin on Thursday.

Sofia Kenin vs Kaia Kanepi head-to-head

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The second-round encounter at the Australian Open is the second meeting between the two players. Kaia Kanepi currently leads the head-to-head 1-0 over Sofia Kenin, having defeated the American 2-6 6-2 6-2 at the 2018 Rome Masters.

Sofia Kenin vs Kaia Kanepi prediction

Sofia Kenin at the 2021 Australian Open
Sofia Kenin at the 2021 Australian Open

The WTA Player of the Year in 2020, Sofia Kenin comes into the match against Kaia Kanepi as the overwhelming favorite. However, Kanepi does have a few tricks up her sleeve that have been known to trouble even the best of players.

The Estonian has an imposing style of play, with incredible power from the back of the court - particularly from the forehand wing. She can win cheap points when she strikes the ball on the rise, as she has shown in her last few matches in Melbourne.

Kenin, on the other hand, has the ability to redirect pace and depth when she's up against power players. Her lightning-quick movement on the court and variety of shots make her a formidable opponent on the hardcourts of Melbourne, as she proved in 2020.

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An in-form Kanepi could pose a few problems for Kenin, who has been shaky over the last few weeks. But if the American shows the grit and determination that took her to the title last year, she should get past Kanepi on Thursday.

Prediction: Sofia Kenin to win in three sets.

Published 09 Feb 2021, 21:05 IST
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