Belarus tennis star Aryna Sabalenka wins Australian Open

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No. 2 seed Sabalenka broke Zheng Qinwen’s serve in the second game and won the first set in just 33 minutes.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka captured back-to-back Australian Open titles with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Zheng Qinwen in a one-sided women’s final on Saturday.

No. 2 seed Sabalenka broke Zheng’s serve in the second game and won the first set in 33 minutes.

She broke again to start the second set and maintained her dominance throughout against No. 12 seed Zheng.

“It’s been a great couple of weeks. It’s an amazing feeling right now,” Sabalenka said during the trophy presentation. “As usual, my speech will be strange, it’s not my super power.”

Only two things slowed Sabalenka’s progress Saturday toward her second Grand Slam singles title.

In the third game of the second set, with Zheng serving, the match was stopped after an activist started screaming. The match continued after the man was escorted out by security.

Then, while serving for the match, Sabalenka had three points for the championship at 40-0 but missed two with her forehand wide or long and another with Zheng’s deft drop shot.

After giving Zheng a breakpoint chance, she bounced the ball behind her in disgust but regained her composure to win the next three points.

Ultimately, he needed five championship points before finishing with a forehand crosscourt winner. It was the type of shot that had Zheng in trouble from the start.

The 25-year-old Sabalenka improved to two victories in three Grand Slam finals, all in a span of 13 months. She beat Elena Rybakina a year ago for the title in Australia.

Sabalenka is the first woman since Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and 2013 to win consecutive titles at the Australian Open, and the fifth since 2000 to win the championship here without dropping a set – a group that includes Serena Williams.

The 21-year-old Zheng was making her major final debut and facing an opponent ranked in the top 50 for the first time in this tournament.

It was the second time in as many majors that their paths crossed in the second week.

Sabalenka beat Zheng in the US Open quarterfinals last year before reaching the final, where she lost to 19-year-old American Coco Gauff.

Sabalenka avenged the loss to Gauff with a semi-final victory that extended her winning streak at Melbourne Park to 13 matches. It’s now 2pm.

In just his ninth major, Zheng’s push to the final was two rounds better than his previous best run to the quarterfinals in New York last September.

She was the first player in four decades to advance through six rounds without facing anyone in the top 50 – and was only the third in the Open Era to reach a major final without facing a top seed.

The step forward against Sabalenka, ranked number 2, proved to be enormous.

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