Aryna Sabalenka wins 2024 Australian Open
January 28, 2024
For the second straight year, Aryna Sabalenka of Minsk, Belarus has won the Australian Open. On Saturday, she defeated Qinwen Zheng of China 6-3, 6-2. The win over Zheng came a year after she defeated Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the 2023 Australian Open.
The major reason why Sabalenka beat Zheng came down to the serve. Sabalenka had zero double faults, compared to six for Zheng. Another key statistic was unforced errors. Sabalenka had 14, whole Zheng had 21.
At one time in Sabalenka’s career, the serve was the most significant weakness in her game. It was so bad, Sabalenka needed to serve underhand just to get the tennis ball in the right section of the court. However, she has made the necessary adjustments and the serve could now be considered one of Sabalenka’s strengths.
It also seemed clear that Sabalenka was the more relaxed player on the court. One person responsible for lightening the mood in the Sabalenka camp is fitness coach Jason Stacy of Melbourne. Stacy has allowed Sabalenka to sign his bald head before beginning her match.
Sabalenka is one two Belarussian women to win the Australian Open. The other is Victoria Azarenka, who was victorious in 2012 and 2013. Ironically, Azarenka is the last women’s singles player to win the Australian Open in back-to-back years. In 2012, Azarenka defeated Maria Sharapova of Russia in the final, 6-3, 6-0. In 2013, Azarenka defeated Li Na of China in the final, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. When Azarenka bageled Sharapova in the second set in 2012, she became the first women’s tennis player to bagel her opponent in the second set in the Australian Open women’s final since Evonne Goolagong beat Helen Gourlay 6-3, 6-0 in an all-Australian women’s final in 1977.
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