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Kaia Kanepi out of Australian Open in first qualifying round

Kaia Kanepi.
Kaia Kanepi. Source: SCANPIX/ZUMAPRESS.com

Top Estonian tennis player Kaia Kanepi is out of the Australian Open after falling at the first hurdle in round one of the qualifiers, 6.3, 6:2 to local player Storm Hunter.

Kanepi, 38, who reached the Australian Open quarter finals as recently as 2022 and is currently ranked 175th by the WTA, Hunter, just four places below her.

Post-match, the Australian said: "Kaia is an amazing player, and she's had an amazing career. I played her last year and she crushed me, so it has been nice to get a win now."

The result was hunter's first grand slam win in her home tournament for four years.

"I didn't start off very well, but then I just decided to enjoy myself. It's not very often that you get to play in a grand slam in front of your home crowd," she went on.

Kanepi took an early lead in set one, going to 3:0 in games, but, got into difficulty with her serve after that, and lost six in-a-row. The Estonian also had her shoulder taped while on court.

Hunter continued the strong momentum in set two, though Kanepi still fought, fending off three break points in the second, protracted game of the set, to take the scoreline to 2:0.

Hunter broke four games later, however, and while Kanepi returned the favor in the next game, the Australian broke again to take a 4:2 lead. Kanepi won no more games, and Hunter took the set and match on the first matchpoint presented to her and while 40:0 up.

The entire encounter at Melbourne Park lasted one hour and 19 minutes.

Both players served up an ace each; Kanepi committed one double fault, Hunter, two.  Kanepi converted two of the four break points she faced during the match, while Hunter had the same rate, albeit out of more points, winning six of the 12 break points presented to her.

The Australian Open main tournament starts this Sunday, January 14.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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