MELBOURNE: In an impressive display of skill and dominance, Aryna Sabalenka successfully defended her Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 12th seed Zheng Qinwen of China in the women’s singles the final on Saturday. The Belarus second seed proved an unstoppable force, winning her second Grand Slam medal and writing her name into history as the first woman to hold a Melbourne Park crown since her native Victoria Azarenka in 2013.
Sabalenka entered the final without dropping a set throughout the tournament, joining an elite group of players – including Ash Barty, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Lindsey Davenport – who have accomplished that feat it's been this impressive since 2000.
From the start, Sabalenka showed her strength , unleashing powerful groundstrokes on Zheng to break and establish a 3-0 lead early in the match. Despite not having his country's flag in the stands due to a ban stemming from his country's involvement with Russia in the invasion of Ukraine, Sabalenka was buoyed by the support of Melbourne fans and the Rod Laver Arena and saw it Thousands of Chinese supporters and millions at home for falling behind Zheng as Sabalenka took the first set.
Zheng, displaying resilience and growing confidence, saved four set points and rallied with a spirited performance, buoyed by the encouraging cries of "Jia You" from her compatriots in the crowd. However, Sabalenka's relentless aggression and powerful play proved too much for the 21-year-old.
In the second set, Sabalenka took advantage of an early break, and a double fault from Zheng fueled the 25-year-old’s momentum. Sablenka overcame a short, shaky service game to win the title with a forehand winner to finish the match. The latter ended up being one of the most one-sided in recent history, reminiscent of Victoria Azarenka’s landmark 2012 victory over Maria Sharapova.
Notably absent were the Belarusian flags in the stands, but Sabalenka's charisma and skill won the hearts of fans as she celebrated her triumph. With this victory, Aryna Sabalenka cements her status as a force to be reckoned with in women's tennis, leaving an indelible mark on the prestigious Australian Open.