February 26th, 2024

Aryna Sabalenka beats Zheng Qinwen 6-3, 6-2 to clinch back-to-back Australian Open titles

By John Pye, The Associated Press on January 27, 2024.

Zheng Qinwen of China plays a forehand return to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Aryna Sabalenka clinched back-to-back Australian Open titles with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Zheng Qinwen on Saturday in a one-sided women’s final.

The No. 2-seeded Sabalenka broke Zheng’s serve in the second game and took the first set in 33 minutes.

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

Serving for the match at 5-2 in the second, she had three championship points at 40-0 but missed two with wide or long forehands and another with Zheng’s clever drop shot.

In the end, she needed five championship points before finishing off with a forehand crosscourt winner.

Sabalenka improved to two wins in three Grand Slam finals, all in a span of 13 months.

She’s the first woman since Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and ’13 to win back-to-back Australian Open titles.

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

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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