Aryna Sabalenka warmed up for the Australian Open by winning her first WTA title since May 2021 as she beat Linda Noskova in the Adelaide International 1 final on Sunday.
Sabalenka lost in all three of her final appearances in 2022, but she began 2023 in emphatic fashion and crowned a fine week with a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) triumph.
Noskova, who at 18 years and 43 days old became the youngest finalist of a WTA 500-level or above event since 2008, looked up for a scrap as both players threatened to break in the early stages.
But Sabalenka soon took the initiative with the match's first break to go 4-2 up thanks to a ferocious backhand, and she subsequently cruised to seal the set.
The teenager kept things tighter for much longer in the second and went close to tying the match as she found herself 5-4 up and at deuce.
But a tiebreak beckoned, and Noskova's pair of double faults helped Sabalenka open a 5-1 lead, eventually seeing out the win at the second time of asking with a powerful serve that gave her young opponent too much to do.
Sabalenka clinched her success without dropping a single set over the course of the week, something she will hope provides a springboard as she aims to improve on her previous best at the Australian Open, where she reached the fourth round in 2021 and 2022.