January 28, 2012 by staff
Victoria Azarenka, If the ringing in your ears has subsided after arguably the highest-decibel women’s final in history, here are two bits of news. Victoria Azarenka won her first career Grand Slam title with a 6-3, 6-0 dismissal of Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open championship Saturday night. In so doing, Azarenka also was crowned the new empress of women’s tennis.
The notion of a No. 1 with a Grand Slam trophy on her mantle is a radical concept on the WTA Tour after a series of recent No. 1s – Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina – came under heavy criticism for holding the top ranking without winning a major. So, for now, that talk will subside.
And beyond the distracting racket that drowned out the few great rallies the two women provided during a lopsided final, the 22-year-old from Belarus can bask in her mission accomplished.
“Right after the win I couldn’t understand what’s happening, you know, and I could not believe the tournament is over because it’s been so long, this road since (the first warm-up event in) Sydney,” Azarenka said. “I didn’t have one day off, so it kind of kept going kept going and right now it still hasn’t hit me that it’s over and I won this.”
She took a few games to get going. But at 2-2, Azarenka reeled off 10 of the remaining 11 games to hand Sharapova a major pasting.
The 24-year-old from Russia, the 2008 champion, had a poor day at the office.
Had Azarenka not handled her first major final with such poise, had she felt the nerves that have historically tortured other Grand Slam final first-timers, perhaps Sharapova might have found a way.
As it was, she went down in a flurry of unforced errors in an effort to try to dictate points against an opponent who also makes her living that way – and was in full flight.
“She did everything better than I did today. I had a good first couple of games, and that was about it. Then she was the one that was taking the first ball and hitting it deep and aggressive. I was always the one running around like a rabbit, trying to play catch-up all the time,” Sharapova said. “She was a step quicker. First shot was bigger. Just not a good combination, I guess.”
It was the second Grand Slam final in six months that Sharapova lost to one of the “next generation.”
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