Meet Victoria Azarenka, your 2012 Australian Open champion and new WTA World No. 1. Azarenka earned those honors by crushing Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 to win her first career Grand Slam title.
“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 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.”
Billed as a match-up between scream queens, the match was simply a beat down. Searching for her first Slam in four years, the experienced Sharapova raced out to a 2-0, 0-30 lead on the Belarussian’s serve before curtains came crashing down.
“Today I didn’t think of going to the match that I have to play perfect,” Azarenka said. “I just have to play better than my opponent, you know. First two games was a little bit of a disaster, but then I kinda got the momentum going. I relaxed and I start to be focusing on the moment on each point, you know, trying to do whatever it takes to win that point.”
Azarenka won 12 of the last 13 games dominating the elder 24-year-old Sharapova.
A backhand into the net from Sharapova gave Azarenka her maiden Grand Slam win after just 1 hour, 22 minutes.
The result marks the fifth different Grand Slam champion in the last five tournaments on the women’s tour, the last four are first-time winners.
For Sharapova, it’s her second straight defeat in a Slam final but it’s still encouraging considering where her shoulder was after surgery in 2009.
“She did everything better than I did today,” Sharapova said. “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, you know, trying to play catchup all the time.
“Her shot was bigger. First shot was bigger. Just not a good combination, I guess.”
Sharapova was still trying for fourth career Grand Slam title, and first in four years.
“Obviously to get to the final is a good achievement, but to end up being the one that loses is always tough, no matter what sport you’re in,” she added. “But I’m proud of the fact that I made it this far. It’s been a few years since I’ve been, you know, in the finals of the Australian Open. It’s a good start to the year, I guess, for me. I have a lot to look forward to this year.”
Azarenka commented on becoming the 21st No. 1 in the history of the WTA. She’ll replace Caroline Wozniacki in the new rankings.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “I have been dreaming and working so hard to win the Grand Slam, and being No. 1 is pretty good bonus, you know, for that.”
Azarenka is scheduled to next play Fed Cup against the Serena Williams and the US team in Massachusetts next weekend.
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