Azarenka Defeats Sharapova in Australian Open for First Grand Slam Title

Victoria Azarenka beat Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final to win her first Grand Slam title and take the No. 1 ranking in women’s tennis.

Azarenka, the No. 3 seed from Belarus, won nine games in a row on her way to defeating the fourth-seeded Russian 6-3, 6-0 at Rod Laver Arena. Sharapova, 24, was seeking her first major championship since winning in Melbourne four years ago.

Azarenka, 22, had moved to the final by ousting defending champion Kim Clijsters of Belgium in the semifinals. The victory over Sharapova lifts Azarenka into the top spot in women’s tennis above Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia faces No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain tomorrow in their third straight meeting in a Grand Slam final. Djokovic won the previous two to secure the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles

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