Second seed Aryna Sabalenka caps a flawless run at the Australian Open by dismissing first-time major finalist Zheng Qinwen on Saturday night championship match, becoming a two-time champion at Melbourne Park.
During the trophy ceremony, the Belarusian outlined: “It’s been an amazing couple of weeks, and I couldn’t imagine myself lifting this trophy one more time.”
The 25-year-old built a successful title defense campaign, winning all 14 sets she played to become the first woman to win consecutive championships at the AO since Victoria Azarenka achieved the feat in 2012 and then again in 2013.
In that regard, she commented: “I just wanted to show that I’m able to be consistently there and I’m able to win another one. I really hope more than two, but for me, it was really important.”
“That’s why, no matter what the result, win or lose, we are always working hard, always looking for things to improve in my game.”
Adding: “It’s all about the process and make sure that, about the discipline, make sure that you’re always there, you always show up, and you always work hard.”
Sabalenka, who did not drop a set all tournament, took control of the final match from the onset, converting a pivotal break of serve in the second game of the opener with a backhand forcing shot, holding her advantage for much of the set to close out in 33 minutes.
Then, she hit back to the court, ruthlessly firing her booming serve, breaking twice to open a 4-1 lead over her adversary in the second set.
The Chinese player poised a late challenge, saving three championship points before earning a break point, which the eventual champion fended off in the eighth game to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.
All in all, the former world number one won 84 percent of the first-serve points and 42 on her second service.
Moreover, the 13-time WTA titlist, who edged US Open winner Coco Gauff in the semifinals, faced no break points all contest, converting three of six break point opportunities she earned.
Addressing Zheng, who secured her ticket to a maiden final at a major by defeating young talent Dayana Yastremska on Thursday, Sabalenka said: “I know this feeling; it’s really tough to lose in the final, but you are such an incredible player, such a young girl and you’re going to be in many more finals, and you’re going to get it.”
The Chinese broke new ground at the Australian Open, becoming the second Chinese player in tennis history to progress to a Slam final.
The 21-year-old performances will see her cracking into the top 10 for the first time on Monday - only compatriot Li Na had accomplished the feat before.
Zheng set off her 2024 season playing at the United Cup, representing China in singles and mixed doubles, delivering a high level of tennis throughout the event.
Meanwhile, Sabalenka chose the Brisbane International, held early in January, beginning a new campaign Down Under, falling to Elena Rybakina 6-0, 6-3 in the final.