Aryna Sabalenka crushed Qinwen Zheng to defend her Australian Open title on Saturday January 27 successfully.
She fixed a second consecutive Australian Open title with a mind blowing performance against first-time Grand Slam finalist Qinwen Zheng in Melbourne.
The world number two defeated China’s Zheng 6-3, 6-2 to become the first player since countrywoman Victoria Azarenka 11 years ago to win back-to-back titles here. The world number two did not drop a set in seven matches.
Zheng, who had not yet faced a best 50 rival until the final, is the first Chinese player to come to a Grand Slam decider since Li Na came out on top for the championship here 10 years ago, couldn’t adapt to Sabalenka’s heartless power all through the challenge which endured 76 minutes.
Sabalenka received the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup from Evonne Goolagong Cawley on the 50th anniversary of her first singles title here.
Afterwards, she said:
“I want to congratulate Qinwen on an incredible couple of weeks. I know how tough it is to lose in the final but you’re such an incredible player and you’re going to get it.
“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks. I couldn’t imagine myself lifting this trophy one more time. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“As always my speech is going to be weird. Team, wow. Thank you so much for being by my side no matter what. I mean, without me you wouldn’t be that good as well.
“I never speak about my family in these speeches but I have to say thank you for everything they’ve done for me. I love you so much, you’re my biggest motivation. I can’t wait to come back.”
Sabalenka joined Ashleigh Barty, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Lindsay Davenport in the elite club of players who have managed the feat since 2000 by entering the match at the year’s first major without dropping a set.
Sabelenka released beast groundstrokes to snatch the final by the mess of the neck with an early break and large number of Chinese allies and millions back home watched Zheng fall behind 3-0.
The charismatic 25-year-old from Melbourne has a large following, and she won the first set with the help of the Rod Laver Arena crowd.
In her second match against Sabalenka, Zheng, who had saved four set points, demonstrated that she was gradually gaining confidence by firing up her own big forehand amid the crowd’s rallying cry of “Jia You.”
Sabalenka had a break point in the first game of the second set with a clean crosscourt winner, but Zheng made a double fault to give it to her. The 21-year-old was beginning to lose hope of winning like her idol Li Na did in 2014.
With Zheng attempting to hold in the third game, the match was momentarily deferred when two observers held up play in the stands and yelled until they were pulled away by security to cheers from the excess fans.
Sabalenka broke once more to take a 4-1 lead, but Zheng kept her composure to get on the board. Her serve had really fallen off.
Zheng managed some brief late resistance, saving four match points, but Sabalenka crunched a forehand winner on her fifth chance before thrusting her arms into the air to close out the most one-sided final since Azarenka beat Maria Sharapova 6-3 6-0 in 2012 by smashing a forehand winner.
After receiving her runners-up plate, Zheng, who will enter the top 10 on Monday, stated:
“I want to say congrats for Aryna to have such a wonderful match here.
“It’s my first final here and I’m feeling it’s a little bit of a pity but I want to say thanks to all the fans who come here to watch me. I feel I could do better in this match but I want to say thanks to my team who helped me arrive here.
“I really enjoy playing in this Australian Open. It’s an amazing memory for me, I’m sure there’s going to be more and even better in the future.”
Aryna Sabalenka now becomes the second player in the last 20 years, to win the Australian Open final without a single game dropped on serve after Serena Williams in 2007 against Maria Sharapova.