Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka successfully defended her Australian Open title on Saturday, delivering a commanding performance against China’s Zheng Qinwen.
Sabalenka won the match 6-3, 6-2 in just 76 minutes, securing her second Grand Slam crown on Rod Laver Arena.
The world number two’s victory marked a remarkable journey through the tournament, as she didn’t lose a single set in her seven matches.
She became the first woman to defend the title at the Australian Open since Victoria Azarenka, another Belarusian, in 2013.
“Australia will definitely always be my special place,” Sabalenka said, reflecting on her back-to-back victories.
“The first title is always special, but the second brings such relief.”
Sabalenka’s latest win reinforces her status as a consistent force in Grand Slams, with six semi-final appearances, three finals, and two titles in recent majors.
She offered words of encouragement to Zheng, who was playing in her first major final, assuring her of future success.
The match was dominated by Sabalenka’s powerful groundstrokes and reliable serve.
Zheng, who reached the final without facing a seeded player due to early exits on her side of the draw, struggled against the more experienced Belarusian.
“It’s my first final, and it’s an amazing memory,” Zheng remarked, despite feeling she could have performed better. “There’s going to be more and better in the future.”
Sabalenka broke Zheng’s serve early in the match and maintained her lead, winning the first set in 33 minutes. Zheng’s nerves seemed to affect her play in the second set, leading to a quick defeat.
Despite the loss, the tournament was a significant breakthrough for Zheng, who is expected to enter the top 10 in the new rankings. Sabalenka will continue to hold the world number two spot behind Iga Swiatek.
“My aggressive game and putting her under pressure, especially on her serve, were key,” Sabalenka stated. “I also served well, which is very important.”