Australian Open 2022: Wildcard Maddison Inglis’ surprising run ends in third-round loss to Kaia Kanepi
Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi has surged from a set down to end local wildcard Maddison Inglis’ Australian Open dream in ruthless fashion.
Inglis threatened for one set to make Kanepi her latest scalp, but the former world No.15 began brutalising the young Australian’s second serve as she swung the match in her favour.
Kanepi’s 2-6 6-2 6-0 victory in Melbourne’s searing heat moves her into the fourth round at the Australian Open for the first time at her 13th attempt.
She will also return to the top 100 – a status that was also up for grabs for Inglis if she scored the upset – and will next face second seed Aryna Sabalenka.
“She played so well in the first set and I thought it was going to be hard to beat her today,” Kanepi said afterwards.
“I just tried to put the balls back in the court and see what happens.”
Inglis won only one of her 17 second-serve points across the final two sets, including dropping serve all seven times, as Kanepi took full advantage.
The 24-year-old wildcard started the week without a grand slam main draw match win but was bidding on Saturday to join world No.1 Ash Barty in the last 16.
Two Australian women had not made it that far at the Australian Open since Nicole Bradtke (nee Provis) and Hana Mandlikova in 1989.
Inglis still walked off Rod Laver Arena with a smile after a breakout tournament, which began with a stunning triumph over reigning US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez.
She departs with a $221,000 payday, heightened confidence that she belongs on the biggest stages and within striking distance of the top 100 and guaranteed entry to all grand slams.
Inglis’ opening-set performance should also hearten her.
She broke Kanepi instantly, hammering a winner off each wing to snatch a 1-0 lead that set the tone for a blistering start.
The threat of Kanepi overpowering her never eventuated in the opening set as she maintained impressive depth of strokes and was often the aggressor.
But the 36-year-old Estonian responded savagely in breaking Inglis’ serve all four times in the second set to level the match and never relented.
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