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Aryna Sabalenka Sweeps Second Straight Australian Open Title

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 27: Aryna Sabalenka poses with the champion’s trophy after defeating Qinwen Zheng of China in the women’s singles final on Day 14 of the 2024 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images

Aryna Sabalenka knows all about making a major mark in Melbourne.

Continuing her pre-match ritual, Sabalenka signed the top of her trainer’s bald head for good luck before tonight’s final.

Then the defending Australian Open champion delivered dominance on court.

Scripting whiplash strikes from the opening game, Sabalenka did not drop serve sweeping Zheng Qinwen 6-3, 6-2 to successfully defend her Australian Open championship in a 76-minute statement triumph.

A sharp Sabalenka scored her 14th straight Australian Open victory, a year after she rallied past Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the 2023 final.

The second-seeded Sabalenka is the first woman to defend the AO since her Belarusian compatriot, Victoria Azarenka, beat Li Na to seize her second straight Australian Open title in 2013.

While last year’s final offered drama, tonight Sabalenka delivered dominance.

The five games Sabalenka permitted in this final makes it the most overwhelming AO final victory since Azarenka destroyed Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 in the 2012 final.

“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks. And I couldn’t imagine myself lifting this trophy one more time,” Sabalenka told the crowd. “It’s an unbelievable feeling right now and I’m a little speechless….

“I never speak about my family. Thanks so much for everything they’v done for me. I love you so much. You’re my biggest motivation and everything I do is for you. So I’m sending love and I really miss you so much.”

Once derided for her schizophrenic serve issues, Sabalenka was untouchable on serve tonight.

Striking with poise and power, Sabalenka served 67 percent, won 32 of 38 first-serve points and saved all four break points she faced. 

The 21-year-old Chinese called her maiden major final a learning experience and vowed she will be back.

“First of all I want to say congratulations to Aryna you have such a wonderful match here. It’s my first final I’m feeling a little bit [nerovus] but that’s how it is, it’s an experience for me,” Zheng said. “At the same time I want to say thanks for all the fans who come to watch me. I feel right now very complicated I feel I could do better…

“It’s an amazing memory for me. I’m sure there is gonna be more and better in the future…Thanks again to all you guys.”

The explosive Sabalenka is the fifth woman in the Open Era to capture the Australian Open without surrendering a set. A dominant Sabalenka joins Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Ash Barty winning the Happy Slam without dropping a set.

It is Sabalenka’s 14th career championship with 12 of those titles coming on hard courts.

The 25-year-old Sabalenka zapped Zheng 6-1, 6-4 in the US Open quarterfinals last September and immediately imposed the same game plan tonight battering the Chinese contender’s forehand until it bled errors. Zheng never really adjusted to the forehand flurry coming at her.

A strong Sabalenka sped through eight of the first nine points to take charge from the start.

Pummeling the Zheng forehand, Sabelanka repeatedly whipped the wide serve on the deuce side to displace the Chinese before unloading her own heavy forehands.

The reigning champion denied triple break point emerging from a love-40 hole to hold for 3-0.

The Grand Slam final debutant held at love to finally get on the board.

Undeterred, Sabalenka charged through eight of her next nine serve points stretching her lead to 5-2.

On her fifth set point, Sabalenka scorched the wide serve to seal the 33-minute opening set.