To retain her Australian Open title, Aryna Sabalenka destroys Zheng Qinwen

NEW DELHI: Aryna Sabalenka, a 25-year-old Belarusian who is ranked second in the world and the reigning champion, upset Zheng Qinwen, a 12-seeded Chinese player, 6-3, 6-2 to win the Australian Open women’s singles championship in Melbourne on Saturday.

In the first set at Melbourne Park, Sabalenka won 6-3 in only 33 minutes.
While Zheng was vying for the maiden Grand Slam championship, Sabalenka was winning her second.
Since 2013, Sabalenka is the first female Australian Open champion to have her title defended.
It concluded an amazing two-week run of power and finesse from Sabalenka, who won her seventh match and championship without dropping a set. Sabalenka is 25 years old.

The Belarusian equaled her countrywoman Victoria Azarenka’s feat, who took home the trophy in 2012 and 2013.
After Zheng’s first service game, the Belarusian began with a smooth serve and had two break opportunities come up at 15–40 when the Chinese player blasted a backhand wide.
It has been an incredible few weeks. It’s an amazing sensation right now, and I couldn’t envision myself raising this trophy one more. I’m at a loss for words,” she said.
Zheng also received encouraging remarks from Sabalenka.
“I understand how you feel; losing in a championship game is difficult, but you are such a talented player and such a young girl. You’ll be in a lot more finals and succeed in them, she assured her.

Seizing the opportunity, she went for her opponent’s second serve in an attempt to break.
Zheng’s nerves eased and she fought to get into the match before Sabalenka solidified on serve for a 3-0 lead, but only after saving three break chances.
In game four, the Chinese player finally found success with her serve, thanks to two huge unreturnable aces and a forehand winner that gave her confidence.
She struggled to bring the ball back over the net and into any rallies, however, and had few countermovements for the powerful Sabalenka serve.
Zheng held for 3-5 after saving three set chances with two aces and a victory, but it was just postponing the inevitable as Sabalenka finished the set in 33 minutes on service.
The pressure quickly put Zheng on the defensive in the second set after three double faults, including one on break point.
And when Sabalenka perfectly executed a drop shot, she gave up another break and fell down 4-1. There was no turning back.
Zheng fought to the very end, saving four championship points before the second seed ended the contest to win her 14th career championship.
Zheng, who will enter the world’s top 10 when the updated rankings are announced next week, considers the tournament to have been a breakthrough experience despite the defeat.
After Iga Swiatek, who lost in the third round, Sabalenka will continue to be ranked second.