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February 11, 2021

Sofia Kenin

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

K. KANEPI/S. Kenin

6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Kaia is a very tough opponent. What did she do well today? What could you have been different from your perspective?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, she obviously played well. I obviously felt like I couldn't find my rhythm. I was obviously way too nervous.

Yeah, I mean, she played really well. She came up with some good shots. She obviously had a good plan against me. I just couldn't execute my shots.

Q. You said maybe you're too nervous. Why so nervous coming into this one? What got you off balance?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, I don't know. I guess it's like the outside pressure. But, yeah, I mean, I felt, like, really nervous. I haven't felt my game for, like, I don't know how long, but I haven't really felt my game so well, even in my first round.

Obviously, like, I played well, but still haven't felt 100% game-wise. It's obviously tough.

Q. You said after the first round about Kanepi and seeing her as your opponent, you were a bit concerned about that match. Did you not think you could hang with her? What was it about this particular matchup that made you a bit tense?

SOFIA KENIN: I don't know. Since last year, like, I won, then obviously I feel like everyone is kind of expecting me to do that. It's obviously tough.

Yeah, I mean, I couldn't close it out. First game, I started off well, 15-40. Couldn't close it out. Was able to break back at 1-All.

I don't know. I felt like I obviously wasn't there. My head wasn't there. Obviously I'm not going to take any credit away from her. She played really well at those good points.

I had chances. I just couldn't take it. I obviously know why because, like, the nerves big-time got to me.

Q. It's interesting you say everyone is expecting you. There's so many big stars in women's tennis, yet you felt like there was sort of a pressure on you specifically, that you were expected to defend your championship?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, I mean, 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.

Yeah, I mean, with the way I'm playing, no (tearing up).

Q. What is your plan moving forward from here? Do you think you'll stay in Australia and play some more, or take a little break?

SOFIA KENIN: I have no idea. I haven't really thought about that. I obviously know there's like a 250, starts on Saturday. There's another 500 after Australian Open. I really don't know right now what I'm doing. Have to figure that out.

Q. You've been talking about the nerves for the last I think 10 days. In one sense do you think you talked yourself out of it, the situation of defending, that you put yourself on the back foot because you had been saying how nervous and anxious you were, the first time defending a major?

SOFIA KENIN: Yeah, I mean, obviously I haven't experienced that. I obviously felt like I'm not there 100% physically, mentally, my game. Everything just feels real off obviously. It's not good.

I mean, I just, 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. Because like today and those matches, it just hasn't been there.

It's weird. I've been practicing for two weeks. Luckily I've been able to practice. I felt fine in practice. Just couldn't do that in the game.

Q. You described the nervousness, the pressure. Could you elaborate on how different it feels to play here this year versus the way it felt last year.

SOFIA KENIN: Well, obviously last year I felt like I was playing good. Obviously I was really nervous. I remember in Adelaide, I was quite nervous. But I just came here, I didn't have really any expectations. I obviously wanted to do well. I knew I was playing well. I started having a good run and everything. It's not like I was ranked a hundred and all of a sudden I won. I mean, I was like there, top 20 or something. I don't even remember.

Yeah, I just didn't put this much pressure on myself as this year. This year I put, like, a lot of pressure. I obviously felt like I was expected to do well. Obviously didn't, so...

That's the difference for me.

Q. After your title last year, you really backed it up well, you won Lyon, you made the French Open final, in terms of being a slam champion, you were wearing that badge well. When did the pressure you were sensing creep in? When did you get in your head about this?

SOFIA KENIN: I mean, yeah, Paris was well. I did put pressure on myself there, but not as much as here. I guess for sure the Australia trip, I feel like that was my eye, that was something that I had my eye on. I knew I was going to have pressure. I knew I was going to have, like, emotions, nerves, everything all together.

Yeah, for sure Australia, the Aussie swing, definitely got me.

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