Aryna Sabalenka ready for ‘great battle’ with Qinwen Zheng in Australian Open final
Aryna Sabalenka is bidding to become the first woman to defend the women’s Australian Open singles title since her compatriot Victoria Azarenka in 2013, but first-time major finalist Qinwen Zheng stands in her way.
Sabalenka enacted revenge from the US Open final earlier today, beating Coco Gauff in straight sets to progress to the final in Melbourne once again.
The Belarusian believes that her focus was the key to her victory against the American, “It was an incredible match. She is a great player. The key was that I was able to stay focus no matter what. I’m happy to be in another final and I hope to do better than in my last final.
“I played passive tennis in NYC [New York City] against her after the first set. Played too many rallies, which doesn’t work well against her. During the off season I practiced a lot of approach shots, going to the net. That made the difference.”
Sabalenka awaited the winner of Zheng and qualifier Dayana Yastremska, with the Chinese player coming through to become the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final since Li Na won the 2014 Australian Open title.
And the world No.2 revealed what she thinks is her opponents biggest weapon, “Zheng is a really nice girl, playing great tennis. And it will be a great battle if I play her. She is moving well, fights well for every point and her forehand is her best shot, quite heavy”.
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It will be a second-time meeting between Sabalenka and Zheng on Saturday evening in Melbourne, with the former winning their previous battle in the quarter-finals of the most recent US Open.
Inside the baseline…
Aryna Sabalenka has looked formidable throughout her title defence in Melbourne, not dropping a single set across her six matches. She will certainly be the favourite for the final on Saturday, but will likely have some cobwebs from the US Open final against Coco Gauff. For Qinwen Zheng, she is likely to be very nervous ahead of the final, but almost has nothing to lose as the big underdog.
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