Aryna Sabalenka does it again Down Under, winning her second straight Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Zheng Qinwen in 76 minutes to secure her second Grand Slam victory on Rod Laver Arena.

"No, I'm not going to be crying," an emotional Sabalenka said after the match, accepting the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup from Evonne Goolagong.

The No. 2 seed famously prophesized she would win at least two major titles by the age of 25, and does so just under the wire with a thunderous display to end the No. 12 seed Zheng’s fairytale run in Melbourne, winning the title with the loss of just 31 total games. She becomes the first woman to defend an Australian Open victory since countrywoman Victoria Azarenka, who won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

"I just said it, like, I'm going to retire after today," she joked in press. "But, no, too early, I think. Can still do something else."

Sabalenka has become the tour's most consistent Grand Slam player and wore the mantle of defending champion impeccably well through her first six matches, roaring into her second straight final without losing a set. She won a rematch of the 2023 US Open final in the semis, snapping No. 4 seed Coco Gauff’s 10-match Grand Slam winning streak to extend her own Down Under to 11 in a row.


"I didn't want to be that player who wins it 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. That's why, no matter what the result, like, win or lose, we are always working hard, we always looking for things to improve in my game.

"It's all about the process and make sure that, about the discipline, make sure that you're always there, you always show up, and you always work hard."

Where the former world No. 1 encountered two Top 10 seeds en route to the final, Zheng capitalized on a top half of the draw vacated by No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek and 2023 finalist Elena Rybakina, both of whom exited the tournament before the second week. All the same, the 21-year-old from Shiyan, who reunited with former coach Pere Riba over the off-season, showed remarkable poise through a pair of three-set matches against Wang Yafan and Anna Kalinskaya before outmatching fellow semifinal debutante Dayana Yastremska to assure herself a Top 10 debut and book her spot in the biggest match of her young career.

Zheng also enjoyed a bit of historical symmetry, becoming the second Chinese woman to reach a Grand Slam final and the first in Melbourne since countrywoman Li Na exactly 10 years ago.


The two were facing off for the second time in as many majors, with Sabalenka posting a straight-set victory over her Chinese rival at the US Open. Flanked by a team led by coach Anton Dubrov and fitness coach Jason Stacy, whose bald head Sabalenka has been signing for luck, she looked eager for a similar result when she won seven of the first eight points to score the opening break. Rallying from 0-40 down to consolidate, she regularly overpowered the formidable Zheng to maintain her advantage, and shook off losing three set points on return to gamely serve out the first set in the very next game.

Just as Zheng seemed to have settled into the match after a hard-hitting start, her hitherto strong serve abandoned her to start the second as three double faults helped hand Sabalenka another break advantage.

Though a spectator threatened to disrupt proceedings with a mid-match protest, Sabalenka maintained a relentless pace, landing a feathery drop shot to nab an insurance break just as the match ticked over one hour.

"Maybe I have to work more on my tennis, also work more on my mental side, work more on myself to be able to through this moment," Zheng said after the match. "Because if you lose, there must be reason behind why you lose, and we have to try to figure out why and then come back stronger and better next time."

Zheng saved four championship points as Sabalenka looked to end the match on her serve, but the defending champion kept battling, saving a break point in a tension-filled game, outrallying her challenger to earn a fifth, converting with one last forehand winner.

The win reignites the battle for No. 1 with the still-top ranked Swiatek, who edged Sabalenka for WTA Year-End No. 1 with a WTA Finals victory in Cancun. Trailing Swiatek by 865 points, Sabalenka defends 400 fewer points than the Pole, having played a truncated Middle East swing last February while Swiatek won in Doha and finished runner-up in Dubai.

With two hard court victories to her name. Sabalenka's next goal is to become a woman for all surfaces—with the hardware to prove it.

"I think last year I proved that I can play on each surface," she clarified. "I think those two semifinals I get super emotional. I lost, not like my matches. I played against incredible players, and they just played unbelievable level, but I felt like I got super emotional and I just let that semis go away.

"But I definitely think that if I'm going to keep working like I'm working right now, and if we're going to keep building what we are building right now, I'm definitely able to do the same on the clay and on the grass."

So then I'll just keep working hard and hopefully this year I'll achieve the same goal on the clay or on the grass.