'Perfect' Sabalenka smashes Tsurenko at Australian Open 2024

‘Perfect’ Sabalenka smashes Tsurenko at Australian Open 2024

/ 06:03 PM January 19, 2024

Aryna Sabalenka Australian Open 2024

Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka reacts after a point against Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko during their women’s singles match on day six of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2024. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka described Friday’s 6-0, 6-0 demolition of Lesia Tsurenko at the Australian Open as “perfection”, but said she could get even better in a chilling warning to her rivals.

Sabalenka, the Belarusian world number two, has dropped just six games in her three matches at the tournament so far.

The 25-year-old Sabalenka, who won her maiden Grand Slam crown in Melbourne last year, is seeking to become the first woman to retain the title since compatriot Victoria Azarenka completed the feat in 2013.

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Sabalenka, wearing vivid red, bristled with intent from the start against the Ukrainian 28th seed on Rod Laver Arena, cantering home in just 52 minutes.

“I think today’s performance was really, yeah, was perfection,” she said. “I’m happy with the level I played today.”

But she added: “There is always something to improve, you know. That’s why you just can’t be happy with the level you are at right now so you always have to keep moving, keep improving.”

Seeds crash

The draw is opening up for Sabalenka, with third seed Elena Rybakina, fifth seed Jessica Pegula and sixth seed Ons Jabeur already ousted, but she cautioned against complacency.

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“Listen, it’s tennis,” she said. “As we see by some of the top players losing in the earlier matches, anything can happen.”

Tsurenko had no answer to Sabalenka’s devastating power and could muster only a paltry 11 points in the first set compared with 27 for Sabalenka.

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It was a similar story in the second set.

Tsurenko had two points to get on the board in the second game on her own serve but Sabalenka slammed the door shut to break again.

She did not let up, smashing 10 winners past her hapless opponent in the set, sealing victory by breaking for the third time when Tsurenko dumped a forehand into the net.

Sabalenka enjoyed a breakthrough 2023. As well as winning the Australian Open she made the semi-finals in Paris and at Wimbledon before losing to Coco Gauff in the final of the US Open.

No player will fancy taking her on in Melbourne, where she is yet to be remotely tested.

She breezed past German qualifier Ella Seidel in the first round for the loss of just one game and romped home 6-3, 6-2 against 16-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova in the second round.

She has been on court for less than three hours over her three matches.

In sharp contrast, top seed Iga Swiatek has already been in action for more than five hours over just two rounds.

In the fourth round, Sabalenka will face unseeded American Amanda Anisimova, who is playing her first Grand Slam since taking an eight-month mental health break.

“First of all, I’m happy that she’s back on tour,” she said of Anisimova, against whom she has a 4-1 losing record.

“Secondly, we had a lot of great matches against each other, always tough battles.

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“I’m happy that my first week was not simple, but it wasn’t, like, super-long matches. Yeah, the first week is past. You know, like now it’s time to focus on the next week.”

TAGS: Aryna Sabalenka, Australian Open

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