Sabalenka Becomes Fifth Woman Since 2000 To Win Australian Open Without Losing A Set

Sabalenka Becomes Fifth Woman Since 2000 To Win Australian Open Without Losing A Set

by Nurein Ahmed

Aryna Sabalenka achieved a remarkable feat by becoming a double champion of the Australian Open on Saturday night.

The Belarusian powerhouse was simply too good for China's rising star and first-time Grand Slam finalist Qinwen Zheng, whom she swept aside without breaking a sweat. Sabalenka won 6-3, 6-2 in just over an hour to complete the perfect week Down Under.

For many years, the Australian Open has been the one Grand Slam that has never had a successful retention formula. Not since 2013 has a WTA player defended the crown the following season.

But it turned out to be a good omen for Sabalenka, who emulated her compatriot Victoria Azarenka - the last woman to win back-to-back Australian Opens. What was even strikingly similar was that both defeated a Chinese player in the final to do so.

For Sabalenka, her title defense was stellar and unstained from the get-go. She did not drop a single set from the first ball she struck on the opening night session of the first Sunday of the tournament, which must feel like an awfully long time ago.

In her first four matches, Sabalenka met the least resistance as a reigning champion, beating two qualifiers in the first two rounds - Ella Seidel 6-0, 6-1 and Brenda Fruhvirtova 6-3, 6-2. In the third round, she demolished Lesia Tsurenko by serving two bagel sets.

Amanda Anismova was tipped to become a hurdle for her in the round of 16, but Sabalenka lay waste on the American, beating her 6-3, 6-2. Then came former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova in the quarters, who, like Anisimova, also garnered only five games.

Sabalenka's toughest test was in the semifinal, where she had to dig deep to beat Coco Gauff 7-6, 6-4. She completed a rout in the final by beating Zheng 6-3, 6-2.

Only four women have previously won the Australian Open without losing a set since 2000. These are Lindsay Davenport (2000), Maria Sharapova (2008), Serena Williams (2017) and Ashleigh Barty (2022). Sabalenka has now joined that exclusive club following her dominant fortnight.


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