Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka hails team after retaining her crown


Aryna Sabalenka hails team after clinching second Australian Open crown

Sabalenka poses with her trophy
Sabalenka poses with her trophyReuters
Aryna Sabalenka (25) paid special tribute to her team of coaches after retaining the Australian Open title in emphatic style to win her second Grand Slam title on Saturday.

The Belarusian became the first woman since her compatriot Victoria Azarenka in 2013 to retain the title after pummelling China's Zheng Qinwen (21) 6-3, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

The manner of her romp to the title without giving up a set will send out a warning to her rivals that the days when her on-court meltdowns threatened to undermine her undoubted talent are long gone.

Her more relaxed attitude has been reflected in her new pre-match ritual at this tournament - signing the bald head of her performance coach in marker pen.

"I think it's all about having fun and enjoying the process. We always doing a lot of crazy stuff with the team," Sabalenka told reporters.

"I don't know. It's helped me to stay focused on court. You know, because there's enough pressure on the court, and off the court we're just trying to keep it simple, keep it fun and make sure that all of us enjoy the process."

Sabalenka jokingly put the blame on her team after she was thrashed in the final of the Brisbane three weeks ago.

Having become ruthlessly effective in Melbourne, she said she was happy to be a different person on and off the court.

"Because if I would be the same person that I'm on the court off the court, I think I wouldn't have my team around me," she said with a smile. "I think I would be alone.

"Yeah, it takes me so much time to become who I am right now on court, to have this control over myself, and to understand myself better.

"It's been a long journey ... I just said it like I'm going to retire after today. But no, too early. Can still do something else."

Sabalenka, who briefly took the world number one ranking from Iga Swiatek last year, said having two Grand Slam titles would only boost her confidence now.

"I just have this knowing that all my life it wasn't, like, wasting of time and I was doing the right thing," she said.

"I'm where I'm meant to be, so that's really important."

One of Sabalenka's first calls after winning the title was to her family and she joked that a minor argument had already broken out.

"I spoke to my mom and there's already a fight about where the trophy is going," Sabalenka said with a laugh.


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