Tennis: Aryna Sabalenka wins the Australian Open for the second time in a row

Aryna Sabalenka, world No.2 and holder of the trophy, was crowned at the Australian Open for the second time in a row by overwhelming Chinese Zheng Qinwen, world No.15, 6-3, 6-2 in 1h16min on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Belarusian won her second Grand Slam title without losing a single set throughout the Australian fortnight. Zheng misses the opportunity to become the second Chinese Grand Slam winner after Li Na, but will enter the top 10 on Monday, in seventh place. Sabalenka becomes the first player in more than ten years to retain the trophy in Melbourne, after her compatriot Victoria Azarenka, in 2012 and 2013.

Zheng couldn’t stand up to him

Like almost all the time since the start of the Australian Open when Sabalenka set foot on the courts at Melbourne Park, there was no real match at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night. Broken in her first service game of the match, broken again from the start in the second set, in difficulty serving with six double faults and constantly attacked by Sabalenka’s powerful strikes, Zheng was never able to stand up to her.

Since her first major coronation at the Australian Open a year ago, Sabalenka has clearly changed in stature. She has just played in three of the last five major finals, two in Melbourne, and one in New York, lost to Coco Gauff.

Gauff, in fact, is the only one to have held out for more than an hour and a half against the world No.2 in the entire Australian fortnight. Li, crowned at Roland-Garros in 2011 and at the Australian Open in 2014, remains for the moment the only Chinese player to win a Grand Slam. Zheng (21) reached the final without having to beat a single player in the top 50, after the top seeds fell one after the other early in her half of the draw. Her best Grand Slam result until then was a quarter-final reached at the US Open in 2023. She had already lost there against Sabalenka.

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