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Photos: Azarenka bullies Sharapova to claim maiden Melbourne crown

Last updated on: January 28, 2012 19:56 IST

Photos: Azarenka bullies Sharapova to claim maiden Melbourne crown

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Victoria Azarenka sank to her knees in disbelieving triumph after winning her first grand slam singles title with a one-sided victory over Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final on Saturday.

- Azarenka wins title

The 22-year-old simply bullied Sharapova into submission in a 6-3, 6-0 victory lasting 82 minutes.

Her dominance in Melbourne will be reflected in the World Rankings on Monday, when she takes top spot from Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.


Photographs: Getty Images

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It is Azarenka's time for sure

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The final had been billed as a battle of ear-splitting screamers but Sharapova went out with barely a whimper, unable to find a way through Azarenka's blue-collar grunt work.

After the Russian dumped yet another backhand into the net to surrender the match, Azarenka fell to her knees, turned to the crowd and asked: "What happened? I don't know what's going on."

Reality sinking in, she climbed up to the player's box to give her coach Sam Sumyk a hug.

"This is your time," he told her.


Photographs: Getty Images

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It's a dream come true: Azarenka

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Azarenka had been given a rough ride by the Melbourne Park crowds throughout the tournament due to her grunting, but they warmed to her quickly.

Sashaying up to the podium, she beamed as she accepted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup from former winner Martina Hingis.

"I've had an amazing month in Australia and it's a dream come true," she told fans at Rod Laver Arena, thanking everyone from her coach to the cleaners.

"And to the drivers, I hope you enjoyed my doughnuts, I've been feeding you forever. I know you've all gained weight."


Photographs: Getty Images

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Azarenka's hard work paid-off

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The first player from Belarus to win a Grand Slam singles title, Azarenka had emerged from the players tunnel cocooned in her hooded sweatshirt and bouncing to the beat on her headphones.

Trying to stay warm on a cool night in Melbourne, she started the match cold and was 2-0 down immediately.

However, Azarenka settled into a solid-if-unspectacular game while Sharapova fell apart, the Russian losing 12 of the next 13 games with a slew of errant groundstrokes and shaky serves.

Azarenka, who won the Sydney International warm-up earlier this month, had issues with a combustible temper earlier in her career, and a tendency to press the self-destruct button which resulted in several spectacular on-court meltdowns.

However, hard work in the off-season coupled with a more mature mental outlook has solidified her game.


Photographs: Getty Images

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'Being No. 1 is a pretty good bonus'

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The few testing moments in Saturday's final that might have previously pushed her buttons were brushed off with an ironic smile and shrug of the shoulders.

"Right after the win I couldn't understand what was happening and I couldn't believe the tournament is over because it's been so long, this road since Sydney," she told reporters.

"I have been dreaming and working so hard to win a Grand Slam, and being No. 1 is a pretty good bonus."


Photographs: Getty Images
Tags: Sydney

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Sharapova claims to No. 3 spot

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While Sharapova will still rise to No. 3 in the rankings, she would have returned to the top spot for the first time since 2008 had she beaten Azarenka.

"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," Sharapova said.

"It's frustrating but I have a pretty good head on my shoulders in terms of having a good perspective on sport and life."


Photographs: Getty Images

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