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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, January 27, 2024

Zheng Qinwen's maiden major final was both big breakthrough and major learning experience.

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka swept Zheng 6-3, 6-2 to collect her second straight Australian Open title.

More: Richard Evans Q&A

The 21-year-old Chinese showed jitters dropping eight of the first nine points in the final. Zheng, who did not convert triple break point in the third game, said she must improve her concentration and mental game and learned to take advantage of opportunities.

"Maybe I have to work more on my tennis, also work more on my mental side, work more on myself to be able to through this moment," Zheng told the media in Melbourne. "Because if you lose, there must be reason behind why you lose, and we have to try to figure out why and then come back stronger and better next time."

Two technical areas Zheng will want to improve: control her toss, which can sometimes stray to the right, more effectively and learn to shorten her backswing on the forehand return.

The 12th-seeded Zheng led the Australian Open in both aces (54) and double faults (41) and tied for the tournament lead in first-serve points won (78 percent).

Zheng rises to a career-high rank of No. 7 and after reaching the Australian Open final in just her ninth career Grand Slam appearance, she believes the best is yet to come.

"I would say there is lot of difficult matches for me on the way, and I'm able to hold that difficult moment and trying to win the match even I wasn't play my best tennis, I wasn't feeling that good there.," Zheng said. "Actually, I think I can learn more with the loss today, and then I just hope next time I can come back as a better tennis player and come back, yeah, stronger."

Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty