Aryna Sabalenka successfully defended her Australian Open title Saturday with a decisive 6-3, 6-2 victory against No.12 seed Zheng Qinwen in a 76-minute final.

Throughout a dominant two weeks of tennis, the second-seeded Sabalenka became the first player since Serena Williams in 2007 to secure the title without dropping serve. She has won 28 of her past 29 sets at Melbourne Park, including her 2023 title run. 


"I'm speechless right now," Sabalenka, 25, said in press afterward. "I don't know how to describe my emotions. But definitely I'm super, super happy and proud of everything I was able to achieve so far.

"Yeah, just happy with the level I played today. She's a great player and very tough opponent. I'm super happy that I was able to get this win today."

The result marks the 14th tour-level title of Sabalenka's career, ninth on outdoor hard courts and first since last May, when she defended her Madrid trophy. She improves to 2-1 in major finals and becomes the 10th active multiple Grand Slam champion alongside Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka, Garbiñe Muguruza, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams.

"Actually it's been in my mind that I didn't want to be that player to win [one Slam] and then disappeared," Sabalenka said. "I just wanted to show that I'm able to be consistently there and I'm able to win another one. I really hope that more, more than two right now, but for me was really important."

Sabalenka became the first player to defend her first major title since Victoria Azarenka's 2013 Australian Open win against Li Na. She is also the first player since Azarenka that year to defend an Australian Open crown.

Zheng, the second Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final and first since Li's title run here in 2014, will make her Top 10 debut on Monday at No.7. Sabalenka will remain at No.2.

Keys to the win: Sabalenka, one of the featured players in Netflix's "Break Point," delivered a near-flawless display of aggressive tennis. She broke Zheng in the second game with a powerful backhand return, then fended off triple-break point in the subsequent game to build a 3-0 lead.

That set the tone for the rest of the match. The 21-year-old Zheng had not landed more than 56% in any of her wins en route to the final. In the first set against Sabalenka, she found 63% along with six aces but was still unable to gain a foothold.

Sabalenka trailed Zheng in terms of overall winners, 14 to the Chinese player's 19, but she was near-impenetrable on serve. Landing 67% of her first deliveries, Sabalenka dropped only six points behind it (and only one in the first set). 

"To play against her, I think is so important to hold your own service game, because she had a really good serve, as well," Zheng said in press afterward. "But I couldn't do that, especially the beginning.

"Today's match, I didn't perform my best. That's really [a] pity for me, because I really want to show better than that."

Zheng's serving performance dipped in the second set. Three double faults in the first game enabled Sabalenka to break again immediately; two more double faults followed in the fifth, and Sabalenka moved out to a 4-1 lead after ending one of the best points of the match with a coolly executed drop shot.

Zheng battled hard at the end of each set, saving the first four set points against her in the first and the first four championship points against her in the second. But Sabalenka was able to fall back on her reliable serve to hold firm both times and converted her fifth championship point with a clean forehand one-two punch.

Asked to compare her state of mind to the 2023 final, Sabalenka said she felt stronger. 

"It's still emotional off the court," she said. "But as soon as I step in on the court, I felt like, 'OK, I think I'm in control,' and I think I'm emotionally ready for it."

Her journey toward becoming a multiple Slam winner has given Sabalenka a new insight into the reactions of some of the all-time greats she'd watched over the years, especially after suffering losses at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.

"You know what? I actually felt after last year it's going to help me to be more free and don't care about things," she said. "But not really. You still feel the same. You still want it badly and you still working very hard for it, and you still have to show up and fight for it and show your best level.

"Before I was watching all these champions crying after each slam. I was, like, 'Come on, you've done it, like, 15 times. Why are you still crying?' Right now, I didn't even get to that point, but I feel like I understand why they still crying. Because every time, the same pressure, the same expectations. You want it same way. So it's always emotional. It's still the same, you know."