Australian Open Daily Preview: Aryna Sabalenka Plays Qinwen Zheng for the Women’s Singles Championship - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Daily Preview: Aryna Sabalenka Plays Qinwen Zheng for the Women’s Singles Championship



Aryna Sabalenka during Thursday’s semifinals (

The women’s singles and men’s doubles championship matches are on Saturday in Melbourne.


Just over a decade ago, Victoria Azarenka won back-to-back Australian Open titles, the last time a woman repeated as champion in Melbourne.  On Saturday, another hard-hitting, shrieking Belarussian, Aryna Sabalenka, plays for her second consecutive Australian Open title. 

Exactly a decade ago, Li Na became the first Chinese player to win an Australian Open singles title.  On Saturday, a 21-year-old Chinese player who idolized Li Na, Qinwen Zheng, vies for her first Major title.

Also on Saturday night, the men’s doubles championship match will be played, featuring Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori vs. Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden (2).  Bolelli won this title nine years with another Italian, Fabio Fognini, while Vavassori is playing for his first Major.  Ebden was a runner-up here two years ago with Max Purcell, a partnership that would win Wimbledon six months later.  Bopanna is playing for his first Major title in men’s doubles at the age of 43, and 14 years after reaching his first final at the US Open.

Qinwen Zheng (12) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Not Before 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

It’s hard to imagine it was only two years ago when Sabalenka was struggling so much on her serve, hitting 20+ double fault in some matches, that she resorted to serving underhand.  Through six dominant rounds this fortnight, during which she hasn’t dropped a set, Aryna has struck 24 aces and just 10 double faults.

She’s the first WTA player in two decades, since Amelie Mauresmo, to reach six consecutive Major semifinals.  And while that round has long been a stumbling block for her, she officially overcame any remaining scar tissue on Thursday, with her strong victory over US Open champion Coco Gauff, avenging a loss in the championship match from New York.

Qinwen achieved her first Major quarterfinal at that same event, and will now debut inside the top 10 thanks to this run in Melbourne.  Like Sabalenka, she possesses a formidable serve, though her ball toss can be a bit problematic.  Zheng has dropped three sets through six rounds, and notably is yet to face a top 10 player, until now. 

After Wim Fissette abruptly left her team a few months ago to rejoin Naomi Osaka, Qinwen rehired Pere Riba, who helped coach Coco Gauff to victory over Sabalenka last September in New York.  So he’ll surely have some good tips for Zheng on how to defeat Aryna.

In the quarterfinals of the that same Major, Sabalenka and Qinwen had their only previous meeting, which saw Aryna comfortably prevail 6-1, 6-4.  With a huge edge in experience, and playing more confidently in big matches than ever before, Sabalenka is a considerable favorite to defend her title on Saturday.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.


Ons Jabeur’s Latest Withdrawal Raises Doubts Over Season Ambitions

Ons Jabeur will be hoping to re-energize herself ahead of a big few months in her career.



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Ons Jabeur’s latest withdrawal in Dubai has raised doubts over how successful the Tunisian can be this season.


Despite having high hopes for revitalizing her season in Dubai, Ons Jabeur has had another setback in 2024.

The Tunisian was forced to withdraw from one of her favourite tournaments of the year in Dubai due to a knee injury.

This withdrawal came days after Jabeur said she was ready for the challenge in Dubai and was excited to compete in front of a passionate crowd in Dubai.

In a statement Jabeur explained her injury and why she was unable to compete in Dubai this week, “After consultation of my doctors and team we have decided that I will have to withdraw from Dubai this week and go for more medical treatments,” Jabeur was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Looking forward to reconnect with all on the courts for the US swing. Thank you for your continuous support.”

This latest setback isn’t a coincidence though as Jabeur has struggled with injuries ever since her Wimbledon final.

The mental and physical toll that the last eight months have taken of Jabeur are starting to show.

There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place as Jabeur has been open about her mental health struggles since that comprehensive defeat to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

That’s a potential problem for Jabeur going forwards as it continues to get tougher for the world number six to find motivation going forwards.

A long break away from tennis may be beneficial for Jabeur as it feels like this summer may be the Tunisian’s last opportunity at Grand Slam glory.

An innovative and new approach may be required for Jabeur as her physical and mental stamina continues to fade with every week.

However will Jabeur manage reinvent herself before it’s too late? Only time will tell and SW19 may be the final destination in that bid.

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Iga Swiatek ‘Proud’ After Claiming Doha Title

World number one Iga Swiatek won her 18th career title in Doha.



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Iga Swiatek defeated Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to claim the title in Doha.


The world number one sealed an 18th career title with a straight sets win over Rybakina.

Swiatek had previously struggled to beat the Kazakh and that continued at the start of the opening set with the Pole conceding a double break deficit at 4-1.

However Swiatek was resilient as she won four games in a row to get back on track in the opening set.

Rybakina broke in the eleventh game and had the opportunity to serve for the opening set but couldn’t take the opportunity.

In the tiebreak, Swiatek converted her fourth set point as she claimed a mammoth tiebreak 10-8.

After that Swiatek seized control as she broke twice after saving two break points in the second game.

The Pole held comfortably to claim her maiden title of the 2024 season in what was her first tournament since a third round exit at the Australian Open.

In her-post match speech Swiatek admitted that she is proud of her performance in Doha this week, “You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” Swiatek was quoted by France 24 as saying after winning her 13th match in Doha.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek will now look to continue that form in Dubai next week where she takes on either Sloane Stephens or Clara Burel in her opening round match.

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Ons Jabeur Ready For Dubai Challenge Despite Injury Struggles

Ons Jabeur is looking to overcome injury struggles and revitalize her form in Dubai.



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Ons Jabeur is looking to be ready for Dubai this week after struggling with injuries this season.


The year could have started better for the Wimbledon finalist who continues to struggle with injuries.

Having struggled with knee injuries, Jabeur enters Dubai in very inconsistent form as she went out in the first round in Doha to Lesia Tsurenko.

However despite recent struggles Jabeur seems determined to continue working on solutions as she prepares for the upcoming challenge in Dubai.

Speaking ahead of the event in Dubai Jabeur reflected on her recent retirement to Tsurenko, “I think it’s the worst decision you can take because my heart wants to play and my body is not allowing me so much,” Jabeur told The National.

“I feel like I need to take the right decision and sometimes you have to take decisions where your heart is not agreeing with it. But all I know is that I’m doing my best to be ready for this tournament and be ready to play here and compete in front of amazing fans.”

The Tunisian will look to pick up form in what should be an incredible atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai.

In recent tournaments there have been football-like atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai and that’s something she is looking to capitalise on, “I think everybody knows the match against Simona was unbelievable,” Jabeur reflected on her epic match with Simona Halep in Dubai in 2020.

“We got the Tunisian fans, the Arab fans and the Romanian fans. So it was unbelievable. I would never forget that match because it was right before Covid and after that the crowd completely disappeared so I always tried to think about that match when the stadium was empty.”

Jabeur has a first round BYE in Dubai and will play a qualifier in the second round before potentially facing the in-form Jelena Ostapenko in the third round.

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