Sabalenka beats Zheng to win Australian Open women’s title

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 passionate 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 by completing victory in 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.

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