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Reigning Australian Open champion, Aryna Sabalenka has successfully defended her title against China’s Qinwen Zheng, 6-3, 6-2, for the first time since fellow Belarusian, Azarenka did so in 2012-13.  

“Yeah, I’m speechless right now. I don’t know how to describe my emotions.  But I’m definitely super, super happy and proud of everything I was able to achieve so far,” the Belarusian gushed in her post-match press conference.

The most one-sided women's finals since, in another parallel, Azarenka dismantled Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 in 2013, Sabalenka completely steamrolled the hapless Zheng.

Responding to The First Serve’s Christian Montegan in her post-match press conference, the Belarusian spoke about how her mental state following her breakthrough at last year’s event.

“I actually felt after last year it’s going to help me to be more free and don’t care about things, and blah, blah, blah. But not really. You still feel the same. You still want it badly and you still working very hard for it, and you still have to show up and fight for it and show your best level.”

The world number two brought her dominant best, not dropping a single set throughout the entire tournament. 

And so it was from the opening point, as Sabalenka came out firing. 

With the backing of strong local support, the Chinese number 1 battled hard to keep up with the Belarusian’s relentless aggression. 

Creating three break-point chances at 0-40 in the third game, Zheng failed to convert any of them as Sabalenka clinically snuffed them out. 

Indeed, Zheng had no answers for Sabalenka's raw power, struggling simply to keep the ball in play.

After surviving two set points on her serve, Zheng couldn't save the third, as Sabalenka served out the set.

The second set started much the same as the first, with Sabalenka breaking early and continuing her momentum, showing the sort of confidence and form that’s served her well throughout the entire two weeks at Melbourne Park. 

With a low first serve percentage of 53%, the damage was done on Zheng’s second serve, only winning 38% of points as Sabalenka punished every return that came her way.

It also didn't help that the Chinese number 1 hit six double faults for the match, clearly affected by the immense pressure Sabalenka was putting her under.

Breaking Zheng twice and maintaining her ascendancy throughout, Sabalenka served out the match, albeit with a few wobbles at the end. 

Congratulating Sabalenka on playing a "wonderful match", Zheng had bittersweet feelings after the match.

"I feel very complicated because I feel like I could've done it better.

"I really enjoyed playing in this Australian Open. I'm sure there is going to be more and better in the future."

In positive news for Zheng, she will enter the top 10 in the rankings for the first time on Monday, jumping up from 15 to 7.

As she accepted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup from four-time champion, Evonne Goolagong, Aryna Sabalenka was quirky as always in her post-match speech, crediting her team whilst also acknowledging it’s a two-way street.

“"Without you I wouldn't be able to achieve so much in this sport. Thank you so much for everything yo do for me.

"But without me you wouldn't be so good as well."

Asked about her late father, Sergei, who didn’t get to see his daughter fulfill their shared dream of winning a grand slam by the time she was 25, Sabalenka credited her whole family for motivating and inspiring her.

“Of course, he’s my biggest motivation. He’s been everything for me. But right now, like, I have my mom, my sister, who is here with me, and I feel like I have to think about them. Right now I’m playing for my mom and my sister and my grandmothers.”

Despite the win, Sabalenka will remain at world number two, behind Iga Świątek, but the Belarusian is clearly brimming with confidence and looks set to continue her flawless start to the season.


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