Sabalenka Reigns Supreme at Australian Open for Second Straight Year

Sabalenka Reigns Supreme at Australian Open for Second Straight Year

Daphne, the Australian Open trophy, belongs to Aryna Sabalenka once again.
Defeating Zheng Qinwen 6-3, 6-2 in 76 minutes on Saturday, Sabalenka (UTR Rating 12.95) claimed her second straight Melbourne title.

She did not drop a single set en route to becoming champion, one of just five women to accomplish that feat since 2000.

UTR Sports INSIGHTS predicted the victory, showing a 65 percent chance of Sabalenka coming out on top prior to the match.

The 25-year-old jumped out to an early lead in both sets, breaking Zheng’s opening service games to take control. She did not lose her serve the entire match, saving all four break points she faced.

Aryna Sabalenka poses in the grass with the 2024 Australian Open trophy.

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Zheng (12.65) entered Melbourne ranked world No. 15 and will rise into the WTA Top 10 for the first time after making her maiden Slam final. Her previous high was No. 13 earlier this year. The 21-year-old, competing in only her ninth Slam main draw, is certainly a star in the making.

Named the WTA’s Most Improved Player last season, Zheng has steadily risen since 2022. The second Chinese player to make a Slam singles final, after the legendary Li Na, Zheng’s previous Slam best was the quarterfinals at the 2023 US Open (where she also lost to Sabalenka).

Sabalenka now holds two major titles and 14 total WTA crowns. She has made the semifinals or better at the last six Slams, the first woman since Serena Williams to do so.

Her toughest match Down Under was in the semifinals against Coco Gauff (12.96), who had defeated Sabalenka in the US Open final last year. This time around, the match went in favor of Sabalenka, 7-6(2), 6-4.

Also making the semifinals was Dayana Yastremska (12.17). A former WTA world No. 21, she became only the fifth qualifier to make the final four at a major and will enter the Top 30 once again after an impressive run in Melbourne.

Other players to make waves in the past fortnight include a couple of teenagers.
Mirra Andreeva (12.69), just 16 years old, defeated world No. 6 Ons Jabeur in the second round. The WTA No. 47-ranked player ultimately made the fourth round, already her second appearance in the second week of a Slam in her young career.
Just 19 and ranked No. 50 in the WTA ranks, Linda Noskova (12.40) eliminated world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the third round.

As for UTR Pro Tennis Tour players, Erin Routliffe made a run to the doubles semifinals with Gabriela Dabrowski. Wild card McCartney Kessler, a finalist at a PTT $25K in Atlanta just last year, won her first singles Grand Slam match to reach the second round. Though she didn’t qualify, Gabriela Knutson, appearing in her first major of any kind ever, won two qualifying matches.

Two juniors that have competed on the PTT reached the girls' semifinals: Ena Koike and Iva Ivanova.

In the end, it was Sabalenka’s tournament – and she has clearly signaled that she is the woman to beat this season.

* Ratings as of Jan. 27, 2024.

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