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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Pembroke Pines resident Sofia Kenin was the Australian Open champion in 2020, and made it to the final of the French Open, too, that year, when she climbed to a career-high ranking of No. 4.
She’s going to drop a lot closer to No. 100 after a first-round exit at Melbourne Park on Monday. The 11th-seeded Kenin was beaten by 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys 7-6 (2), 7-5 in an all-American matchup. Keys lives in Boca Raton.
“It’s not easy, but it’s just a number. It doesn’t change who I am. I’m still that person who everyone respects very much,” Kenin said of her WTA ranking status. “Obviously, it’s not the best news. … But I don’t have a doubt I can get back there.”
Keys, also a former top-10 player who reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2015, used 16 aces to extend her recent run of success: She is coming off a hard-court title at Adelaide on Saturday.
“Just some unforced errors and some forced errors — because Maddy forced them. I was right there. It’s disappointing,” Kenin said. “It’s a little bit of a bummer.”
Last season was difficult for her: She was off the tour for the second half of the year because of a foot injury and a bout with COVID-19.
Her ranking has remained as high as it has thanks in large part to getting to hold onto the points she earned by winning the trophy at the Australian Open two years ago. But after a second-round loss in 2021, she now departs even earlier.
No. 18 Coco Gauff of Delray Beach also lost in the first round, saving five match points before losing 6-4, 6-2 to Wang Qiang.
Other South Floridians in the Aussie Open include No. 13 seed Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens of Fort Lauderdale.