The Queen of Melbourne Park has won fans over once again on Sunday.
Aryna Sabalenka proved far too strong for the Australian Open draw as he steamrolled her way to a second straight crown Down Under.
Sabalenka’s dominance was on full display on Saturday night as she secured the 6-3, 6-2 victory over China’s Qinwen Zheng in just 76 minutes.
It was a record-breaking fortnight for the world No. 2, who not only became the first repeat champion since countrywoman Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and 2013, she also becomes just the fifth player since 2000 to have won without dropping a set.
After clinching her first grand slam crown at last year’s Australian Open, Sabalenka sent fans wild with a next day photoshoot with her trophy.
The Belarusian cruised down the Yarra River in a lilac dress, but on Sunday there was no boat ride for the champ as she stole the limelight at Carlton Gardens.
Sabalenka only dropped 31 games all tournament — one shy of Barty’s 2022 performance.
She was also the first player since Serena Williams in 2007 to win the Australian Open final without dropping a game on serve.
Speaking on Channel 9 after the result, Sabalenka said that it was less emotional but no less of an honour.
“I think the first one is always special because I feel like it is more emotional when you win it the first time and for the second time, it is such a relief,” she explained.
“I have been under pressure these two weeks and super happy I could handle the pressure and compete on such a high level.
“Anyway, it is something special like the first one and the second one it is a special feeling.”
But it was the photoshoot on Sunday that had fans crowning Sabalenka the queen both on and off the court.
Sabalenka’s win saw her fulfil a dream set in place by her and her father to win two slams before her 25th birthday.
“I lost my father four years ago. We had one dream, that before 25 I will win a couple of grand slams,” Sabalenka said in the final episode of the first season of Netflix’s Break Point.
“And when he passed away, I started thinking too much about it.
“Now I’m 24 and there is zero in my pocket.”
That scene was filmed before she broke through to claim her first win at the 2023 Australian Open title — achieving half the dream before her 25th birthday.
Sabalenka, who also featured in the first episode of the second season of Break Point told the program: “I really wanted to win a slam for him, just to put our family name in the history, but there’s so many thoughts going through your mind on that court, like I have to win every point, I have to win this slam. Thinking too much about it.”
However, in the scenes during the final, Sabalenka said it freed her up when she was finally able to speak to her mother after her father’s death.
“When I told her I want to win a slam for him, for his memory … she said ‘what are you talking about?’” she said.
“‘He was proud of you after each match you won. Every match for him mattered and titles wasn’t a big deal for him’.
“I kind of found this relief. He would be proud of me no matter what. I felt free.”
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