Arina Sabalenka wins Australian Open title for second time, defeating Zheng Qinwen

Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open in decisive, straight sets against Zheng Qinwen in a fitting end to a fortnight that cemented her as the class of her game at the moment, even if the rankings didn't say it.

For the seventh time in as many matches, Zapalenga, a 25-year-old power hitter from Belarus, outplayed her opponent for most of the match, overwhelming Zeng with her tremendous serve, her forehands, and her backhands. Sending them off the court or into the net, her competition is nearly impossible to handle.

Sabalenka dominates on serve and in the back of the court (Bill Walter/Getty Images)

Sabalenka served out a crushing first set, winning 6-3, 6-2 on his fifth match point after 76 minutes with a cross-court forehand.

It was Sabalenka's second straight title at the Australian Open and the first time a woman has won Grand Slam titles on hard court since 2014. Consistency at the top is rare in this sport, and Sabalenka has been a beacon. Stability in the most important competitions.

He has reached at least the semifinals of every Grand Slam, starting with the 2022 US Open. Since the start of last year, he has played in three Grand Slam finals, winning two of them, and is one point away from finishing fourth.

His consistency is particularly remarkable because not so long ago Sabalenka seemed to have lost the potential to be a great tennis player. For several months in early 2022, he had a very painful case of the yips, the nickname given to the psychological blocks that prevent athletes from performing the most basic actions.

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In Sabalenka's case, she pumped 21 double faults in one match and 18 double faults in another, losing her ability to serve. He “just” celebrated hitting 10 during a win at the 2022 Australian Open. No one could have predicted the run that would begin within a year or how it would pay off.


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Sabalenka, a player everyone knows has the talent and athleticism to become the best player in the world, basically told her coaches she no longer wanted to talk about her service. She fired her sports psychologist and decided it was just her. She certainly did.

After last year's US Open, she was the world's No. 1 player. Poland's Ika Swiatek recaptured it at the end of the season. But Swiatek struggled in his first three matches at this year's first Grand Slam, albeit against a tough collection of opponents, losing in week two, while Sabalenka cruised regardless of who stood on the other side of the net.

Zheng struggled to compete (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)

In the semifinals she avenged her loss to Coco Goff in the US Open final. Next up, Zeng, a rising 21-year-old from China, has in the past six months begun to live up to the promise many have predicted in recent years as China's next tennis star after Li Na. Champion. Large pockets of Chinese fans were clamoring to wave the Chinese flag from the very first ball, doing their best to lift Zeng even further.

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That could still happen, but Zeng struggled to deal with the nerves of her first Grand Slam final at the end of a match, aside from facing a supreme version of Sabalenka, where Sabalenka was the only top-50 player Zeng, the 12th seed, had met. .

Sabalenka emerged as a completely different level of adversary, and he was.

(David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)

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