Sabalenka win banishes Adelaide demons

World No.5 Aryna Sabalenka has banished her serving demons from last year by defeating 18-year-old qualifier Linda Noskova to win the Adelaide International 1 final.

Sabalenka was reduced to tears in the Adelaide tournament last year when her service game fell apart in her three-set loss to Sweden's Rebecca Peterson.

The 24-year-old lost so much confidence during that match that she resorted to serving underarm at one point.

Some of her overarm serves became mere lobs into the other side of the court, with the chair umpire intervening during a swap of ends to ask if she was OK.

But it was a far different story on Sunday, with Sabalenka's serve proving a major weapon in her 6-3 7-6 (7-4) triumph over Noskova.

"I didn't have that flashback feeling," Sabalenka said.

"But maybe in the beginning, that first match, on the first second serve, I thought, 'Let's see how it's going to be this year'.

"And I served it in, so I thought, 'It's not going to happen again', and I felt so much relief after that.

"I don't want this s**t to happen again. It was the worst feeling. I don't even want to think about it."

Noskova had to save match points during qualifying just to make the main draw, and she saved a match point in her quarter-final win over two-time grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka.

A semi-final win over world No.2 Ons Jabeur raised hopes of Noskova snaring a maiden WTA title.

But Sabalenka's greater experience and power on serve proved crucial in Sunday's final, with the No.2 seed securing the win in 103 minutes.

It was her first WTA title since beating Ash Barty on clay in Madrid in May, 2021.

Sabalenka struck 17 winners to four in the first set, and won the ace count 6-0.

Noskova fought tooth and nail to stay in the match, saving break points with the scores locked at 4-4 and 5-5 in the second set.

But two double faults in the tiebreak cost Noskova dearly, with Sabalenka going on to seal her 11th WTA title.

Sabalenka finished the match with 44 winners compared to Noskova's 20.

Noskova immediately turned her attention to the Australian Open qualifiers after losing the final.

"I was walking down the hallway and thinking, 'Who am I going to play next in Melbourne?'" she said.

"This (Adelaide) tournament doesn't matter in a few hours."