Aryna Sabalenka underlined why she had long been considered the Australian Open favourite by overpowering Zheng Qinwen to retain the women’s title.

Belarusian second seed Sabalenka won 6-3 6-2 to claim her second Grand Slam singles trophy without dropping a set.

With 12th seed Zheng backed by fanatical Chinese support, a composed Sabalenka sucked the energy out of her opponent and the crowd in a fast start.

She is the first woman to win back-to-back since Victoria Azarenka in 2013.

Sabalenka, 25, who became the strong favourite after top seed Iga Swiatek was beaten in the third round, emulated her compatriot Azarenka with a victory that took little over an hour.

“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks and I couldn’t imagine lifting the trophy another time,” said Sabalenka.

Zheng, 21, was playing in her first major final and often looked overawed – by both the occasion and her opponent.

The rare moment of uncertainty in a dominant performance by Sabalenka came when she was trying to close out victory and needed to save a rare break point before taking a fifth championship point.

She took this with a clean forehand crosscourt winner, turning to her team with both arms lifted towards the sky before blowing a kiss.



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