MELBOURNE -- The Australian Open final is set. World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka is one win away from defending her title in Melbourne. Standing in her way is No.12 seed Zheng Qinwen, who is eyeing a run of destiny as she looks to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Li Na's Australian Open victory with a milestone of her own. 

Here's what you need to know about the first Grand Slam final of the season:

When is the women's singles final? 

The women's singles final will be played at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. (3:30 a.m. ET). 

What are the points and prize money at stake?

By making the final, both Sabalenka and Zheng have assured themselves at least AUD 1,750,000 and 1,300 points. Saturday's winner will leave Melbourne with AUD 3,150,000 and 2,000 points. 

Zheng has already assured her rise into the Top 10 for the first time after the tournament. 

Sabalenka will remain at No.2 regardless of Saturday's result. 

How did Sabalenka and Zheng get here?


Sabalenka has not lost a set through her six matches in Melbourne, defeating qualifiers Ella Seidel and Brenda Fruhvirtova, 28th seed Lesia Tsurenko, Amanda Anisimova, No.9 Barbora Krejcikova and No.4 Coco Gauff. Before Sabalenka's 7-6(2), 6-4 semifinal win over Gauff, no one had managed to win more than three games in a set. 

Defending champion Sabalenka stops US Open champion Gauff 

Dating back to her title run last year, Sabalenka has now won 26 of her past 27 sets at Melbourne Park. She is 10-1 on the season, having started her year by making the final in Brisbane.

The Australian Open will be Sabalenka's 26th career tour-level final, the most of any player since 2017, when she reached her first final. 


Seeded No.12, Zheng came through the top half of the draw, emerging from the quarter that was originally anchored by No.3 Elena Rybakina and No.5 Jessica Pegula. She defeated Ashlyn Krueger, Katie Boulter, Wang Yafan, Oceane Dodin, Anna Kalinskaya and Dayana Yastremska. It's been a rare run through an unseeded field.

Read: Zheng stops Yastremska to make first major final

Zheng has lost three sets in the tournament. Before Melbourne, she had yet to make it past the quarterfinals of a major. During the offseason, she reunited with coach Pere Riba. The two parted ways last year after Roland Garros, and Riba went on to coach Gauff to her first Grand Slam title in New York. 

More on Zheng:

What milestones are at stake on Saturday?

Sabalenka, 25, is bidding to win her second Australian Open title and 14th career title overall. She is riding a 13-match win streak in Melbourne, the longest streak since Victoria Azarenka in 2012 to 2013. 

If she wins on Saturday, she will become the first woman to successfully defend her Australian Open title since Azarenka. She will also join Iga Swiatek as the only two players aged 25 and under to win multiple majors.

Zheng, 21, is trying to win her first Grand Slam title and third title overall. Her run to her first major final came during the 10th anniversary of Li Na's title run in 2014. Zheng is the youngest Chinese Grand Slam finalist in history and the second youngest Asian finalist after Naomi Osaka. 

How do they stack up?

Sabalenka and Zheng have faced off just once in their careers. That came in the quarterfinals of the US Open last fall. Sabalenka won 6-1, 6-4 on her way to the final.

Zheng leads the tournament in aces, firing 48 across her six matches. She has also hit 35 double faults. Sabalenka has hit 24 aces to 10 double faults. 

Overall, Sabalenka has the edge in serving efficiency. She has won 88 percent of her service games (44 of 50) compared to Zheng's 80 percent (55 of 69). While their first-serve points won numbers are comparable, Sabalenka has been better behind her second serve, winning 55 percent to Zheng's 45 percent. Under pressure, Zheng has been solid. She has saved 62 percent of the break points she's faced (23 of 37), while Sabalenka has saved 50 percent (6 of 12).

Sabalenka has been outstanding in her return games, breaking serve 58 percent of the time (28 of 48 games). Zheng has won 41 percent of return games (28 of 68 games). Where Sabalenka has feasted on her opponent's second serves. She has won 66 percent of her second-serve return points. Zheng has won 57 percent. 

'Break Point': Is the curse real?

What are they saying? 

Sabalenka: "I would say emotionally I'll be very ready to fight. Not going crazy. Because when you play the first Grand Slam final you get emotional and rush things sometimes. When you're third time in the finals, you're like, 'OK, it's a final, it's OK. It's just another match, and you're able to separate yourself from that thing.'"

Zheng: "I'm sure the final will be really competitive, because I think Sabalenka, she's one of the, I would say, most big hitters right now in the tour. She got the most big serve, most big forehand, big backhand. She's really complete player."

Sabalenka: "We actually practiced here before the tournament, and she's playing really great tennis. She's really nice girl and really playing really great tennis once again. I think her forehand is really her best shot. I would say forehand, it's quite heavy. She played really great tennis, putting her opponents under pressure, playing really aggressive tennis, and I think that's why she [will be] in Top 10."

Zheng: "I believe in destiny. Yes, I do. But I try to don't let other things affect me, even if destiny. When everything is working well, I believe in destiny. But if the destiny doesn't go on my side, I don't believe that at all [smiling]. Only depends where destiny goes [smiling]."

Sabalenka: "Of course [defending a title is] tough, but worst case you're gonna lose it and next year, nothing to defend. So it's not like I'm ignoring the pressure. I'm just shifting my focus and it's working well so far. It's one more to go, and I'll do my best."

Zheng: "I think the challenge is everywhere. Even if not her. I mean, there is still going to be challenges on my side, because to arrive in the final, everybody needs to face the pressure in the final. Who can deal better and who can perform their tennis is the one who's gonna win the match.

"That's one of my challenges. I need to deal with it. I will try to work on it. There is nothing more I can say. I will say enjoy the final and let's fight."