A resurgent Kaia Kanepi is through to round two of the Australian Open in Melbourne, after beating Anastasija Sevastova, from next door in Latvia, in straight sets, 6.3, 6:1, setting herself up with a second round encounter with world number four Sofia Kenin.
Kanepi, now ranked 65th in the world and very much on form after reaching the final of Australian Open warm-up tournament the Gippsland Trophy, also in Melbourne, last week, broke her opponent's serve twice in a row in the opening game of the encounter, and was soon 4:1 up in less than 15 minutes, ERR's sports portal reports.
Sevastova, 53rd in the WTA rankings, pulled back two games in a row, but the Estonian broke her service again and went on to wrap up the set in 28 minutes.
Sevastova had no answer to a hail of Kanepi shots as the latter raced to 5:0. While the Latvian held her serve in game six, making it 5:1, Kanepi took the final game and thus set and match.
The whole encounter lasted 59 minutes.
Kanepi was successful on 76 percent of her first serves and pulled off 18 aces compared with 48 percent and seven respectively for her opponent.
Kanepi, 35 from Haapsalu, faces Sofia Kenin (U.S.) in round two. Kenin defeated local player Maddison Anglis 7:5, 6:4 in her opening match on the hard courts at Melbourne Park, which lasted around 90 minutes.
The pair have met before, with Kanepi emerging victorious that time, in Rome in 2018.
Kanepi told Estonian journalists after Tuesday's victory that: "I remember it was a hard game on clay. She (Kenin-ed.) was then a young, future star still, and I thought at the time she played so well at such a young age."
The match scoreline ended up a somewhat neat and tidy 2:6, 6:2, 6:2.
Kenin, who was born in Moscow to parents who had emigrated to the U.S. during the Soviet era, returning only to give birth before heading back to America when the future star was a few months old, also recalled the 2018 encounter.
"Thanks for reminding me I lost," she said at a press conference.
"I remember the game. When I left the court today (after her first round victory – ed.) I saw that she (i.e. Kanepi – ed.) was winning. Perhaps it caught me off guard, because of course I remember losing to her. But I will of course do my best to prepare for the game and to win," Kenin went on, noting that she saw Kanepi as a strong and powerful player. Kenin added her strategy would be to control the pace of the game.
This article was updated to include comment from Kaia Kanepi and Sofia Kenin.
Editor: Andrew Whyte