(Reuters) – Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka made a strong start to her 2021 season with a comfortable 6-2 6-2 victory over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia to clinch the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday and extend her winning streak to 15 matches.
After finishing 2020 with trophies at Ostrava and Linz, the strongly built Sabalenka started her new campaign in the same vein in Abu Dhabi and will rise three spots to a career-best world number seven when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday.
It was the ninth title overall for the fourth-seeded Sabalenka, who now heads to Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the year at the Australian Open next month.
She will now head to Melbourne for a mandatory 14-day quarantine before the warmup events start from January 13 ahead of the Australian Open.
With her powerful groundstrokes and all-round game, Sabalenka will be considered a dark horse at the February 8-21 Grand Slam at Melbourne Park.