'Holy hell': Australian Open champ in 'shocking' tennis drama

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Sofia Kenin, pictured here in action against Victoria Azarenka at the Italian Open.
Sofia Kenin had no response for Victoria Azarenka at the Italian Open. Image: Getty

Tennis fans and commentators were left stunned on Thursday after Victoria Azarenka took down Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-0, 6-0.

Azarenka, fresh from her run to the US Open final, produced an absolute masterclass on centre court at the Italian Open to knock out third seed and World No.5 Kenin.

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Azarenka, who lost to Naomi Osaka in the US Open final on Saturday and flew in to Rome to beat Venus Williams in a two-hour first-round match on Wednesday, needed only an hour to dispatch the Australian Open champion.

American Kenin, who received a bye into the second round, had no answers to Azarenka's consistency from the baseline and made a string of errors, finishing the match with 22 unforced errors while Azarenka made only four.

Kenin did not create a single opportunity to break the 31-year-old Belarusian while Azarenka won an overwhelming 89 per cent of her first serve points at the Foro Italico while converting six of 11 break points.

“I think consistency was key to the scoreline, I feel like I played really smart tennis today,” Azarenka told reporters.

“I was able to use a lot of the court and different pace.

“I went for bigger serves when I needed it, I went for variety. I wasn't feeling very good in the warm-up today but it worked out in the match.”

Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin, pictured here after their match at the Italian Open.
Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin tap racquets after their match at the Italian Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Fans and commentators took to social media in disbelief over Azarenka’s brutal takedown of the Australian Open champ.

“Wouldn’t believe it but I watched it,” New York Times writer Christopher Clarey tweeted.

“A combination of Azarenka’s sparkling form and Kenin’s serious disarray.”

Tumaini Carayol said the scoreline was “incredible”, while Jose Morgado simply tweeted: “Yikes.”

It’s just the 14th time in the Open era that a grand slam champion has been double-bageled.

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Muguruza gets past Coco Gauff

Earlier, former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff before the Spaniard advanced to the last 16 with a 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3 victory.

Playing in the main draw of a WTA tournament for the first time in her career, Gauff went toe-to-toe with the twice Grand Slam champion before capitulating in the third set when a string of double faults gave Muguruza the advantage.

“I don't look at her as a different player,” Muguruza said.

“It doesn't matter how old she is. She's a great competitor and she can play very well.”

In the men's field, Italian seventh seed Fabio Fognini was ousted in straight sets by Ugo Humbert, with the Frenchman winning 7-5 7-6(4) in a match that started unusually with six consecutive breaks of serve.

Humbert will take on Canadian 12th seed Denis Shapovalov, who beat Pedro Martinez 6-4 6-4.

Argentine eighth seed Diego Schwartzman also advanced with a 6-4 7-6(1) victory over John Millman to set up a last-16 clash with Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, who stunned US Open quarter-finalist and ninth seed Andrey Rublev 7-6(6) 3-6 6-2.

with agencies

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