MELBOURNE PARK, Australia â€“ Third seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus overcame early match jitters to soundly defeatÂ fourth seed Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0Â to win her first Grand Slam title. Along with the win, Azarenka will rise to No.1 in the world as of Monday.
Sharapova broke Azarenka in the opening game of the match and held for a 2-0 lead. After the Belarusian held for 1-2, she broke Sharapova at love to even the set at 2-2.
“I was super nervous,” said Azarenka. “I couldn’t wait to actually go on the court and play.Â It was a long wait, you know.Â I was like, Okay, I’m ready to go.Â I’m ready to go.Â When is it coming?Â When is it coming?Â What time is it?
“So I was.Â I just think I really handled well the situation after that little slack in the beginning.Â You know, she really started aggressive.Â It kind of keep me a little bit off guard, because I tried to be aggressive myself and it didn’t really work.Â I missed few shots.
“But I’m glad I could stay humble and just take it one at a time.Â Just keep fighting, keep fighting, and changing the momentum.
Both women continued to hold until the 8th game when Azarenka broke serve and held to take the first set 6-3.Â Azarenka raised the level of her game with her variety and shutout the Russian in the second set for the match 6-0 winning 9 games in a row.
“She did everything better than I did today,” said Sharapova.Â “You know, I had a good first couple of games, and that was about it.Â Then she was the one that was taking the first ball and hitting it deep and aggressive.Â I was always the one running around like a rabbit, you know, trying to play catchup all the time.
“Yeah, I mean, she was, you know, a step quicker.Â Her shot was, you know, bigger.Â First shot was bigger.Â Just not a good combination, I guess.
“Yeah, it was just one of those days where maybe I just, you know, I think maybe because I felt like I wasn’t being aggressive enough and I knew that I have to be and I knew that I had to change that.
“There was no way I was gonna win the match if I was gonna let her dictate and be the one that’s aggressive and, you know, go for the lines and change down the lines like she likes to do.
“But, yeah, I think maybe I just kind of overdid it.”
The Australian Open marks the fourth consecutive major that a womenâ€™s major has been won by a first-timer -Â 2011 French Open â€“ Li Na, 2011 Wimbledon â€“Petra Kvitova, Â 2011 US Open â€“ Sam Stosur and now 2012 Australian Open â€“Victoria Azarenka.
Azarenka is currently on a 12-match win streak from the beginning of 2012. She won the Sydney tournament earlier in January.
“I’m so glad I went through everything in my career to achieve this goal. I couldnâ€™t be happier. I’ve been loving coming to Australia since I was a junior and I’ve had an amazing month and this is a dream come true,” said Azarenka in her on-court interview.
“Just the perfect ending and the perfect position to be in,” Azarenka told media in her post match news conference.
Â “You know, today I didn’t think of going to the match that I have to play perfect.Â I just have to play better than my opponent, you know.
Â “First two games was a little bit of a disaster, but then I kinda got the momentum going.Â 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 will be heading to the United States next week as Belarus plays the US in Fed Cup.