Aryna Sabalenka has fallen short of eclipsing Ash Barty's record at the Australian Open but has joined some legendary names after her second straight victory at Melbourne Park. The bubbly Belarusian never looked in danger during her charge to the Australian Open title having blasted past rival Zheng Qinwen in straight sets during the final.
Sabalenka is now the first female to win back-to-back Australian Open titles since her compatriot Victoria Azarenka in 2013. And the 25-year-old achieved the feat in swashbuckling form.
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Sabalenka joins greats Barty (2022), Serena Williams (2017), Maria Sharapova (2008) and Lindsay Davenport (2000) as only the fifth woman this century to win the Australian Open without dropping a set. She achieved the title in the second most dominant fashion having only dropped 31 games.
Although this still falls short of Barty's 2022 run with the four-time grand slam champion only dropping an incredible 30 games on her way to victory. But in 2024, the Belarusian achieved the feat in such dominant fashion that she even left herself speechless.
"It's been an amazing couple of weeks and I couldn't imagine myself lifting this trophy one more time," Sabalenka said. "It's an unbelievable feeling right now. I'm really speechless." And while Sabalenka didn't drop a set in achieving the feat, she still faced self-doubt.
The 25-year-old admitted she was worried last year when she lost the US Open final to Coco Gauff - a rival she defeated in the semi-final at the Australian Open - that she might not get another chance to win a second grand slam. Only a few months later and Sabalenka will go down in history as a multi grand slam winning champion.
"It's been in my mind that I didn't want to be that player who won it and then disappeared," Sabalenka said in her press conference. "I just wanted to show that I'm able to be consistently there and I'm able to win another one. I really hope for more than two right now."
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And Sabalenka immediately turned her attention to the clay and grass court seasons. Dominant on hard courts, Sabalenka is keen to reciprocate her form on the other surfaces to add to her grand slam tally.
"I definitely think that if I'm going to keep working like I'm working right now, and if we're going to keep building what we are building right now, I'm definitely able to do the same on the clay and on the grass," Sabalenka added. "I'll just keep working hard and hopefully this year I'll achieve the same goal on clay or on the grass."
5 - Aryna Sabalenka is the 5th player this Century to secure the Women’s Singles title at the Australian Open without a single set dropped en route after Davenport in 2000, Sharapova in 2008, S. Williams in 2017 and Barty in 2022. Domination.#AusOpen | @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/ltADtnsyH2
— OptaAce (@OptaAce) January 27, 2024
Zheng Qinwen ready for future grand slam opportunities
Unfortunately for Zheng, Sabalenka was too ruthless in the final for the 21-year-old to get into the match. And while she admitted the moment got to her, she is ready to fight for another opportunity at future grand slams.
"I'm feeling a little bit pity but this has been an amazing experience for me," Zheng said. "It is my first grand slam final. I feel that I could do it better, but I didn't in this match. I'm sure there's going to be more and better in the future."
Still can’t believe it🙈
— Sabalenka Aryna (@SabalenkaA) January 27, 2024
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