Updated at 17:34,27-10-2020

Azaranka wins Australian Open, claims No.1 ranking

Belarusian tennis star Viktoryya Azaranka (Victoria Azarenka) on Saturday beat Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 to win the Australian Open women`s title and secure the No. 1 ranking.

The 22-year-old Azaranka became the first Belarusian to win a grand slam singles title, and the third woman, after Evonne Goolagong-Cawley and Chris O`Neil, to win the junior and senior singles title at Melbourne Park. She won the junior title in 2005.

Ms. Sharapova, a three-time major winner and the 2008 Australian champion, was playing her sixth slam final.

Both women started out nervously. Ms. Azaranka was down 2-0 after the start before winning 12 of the next 13 games.

When accepting the trophy from three-time winner Martina Hingis, Ms. Azaranka said "wow" and then started giggling. She thanked her support team and parents for helping her believe in herself.

The Belarusian took home $2.3 million in prize money.

"Viktoryya played greatly, while I failed to show my best tennis", Ms. Sharapova said at the trophy presentation.

Speaking at a news conference before the match, which Ms. Sharapova did not attend, the Belarusian said, "I think that she is mega-eager to beat exactly me".

To a question about the Belarusian nation, Ms. Azaranka said the Belarusians and the Russians are "absolutely different nations". "The only thing that looks the same is the languages… I don’t really want to dwell on the subject, but when you go outside large cities in Belarus, you see that it is still tidy and clean everywhere. It suggests much, in my opinion. As regards their mentality, the Belarusians are really hard workers".