Aryna Sabalenka recorded a comfortable 6-2 6-2 victory over Veronika Kudermetova to clinch the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi and extend her winning streak to 15 matches.

After finishing 2020 with trophies at Ostrava and Linz, the powerful Belarusian 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.

"I am really proud of the fact that I was fighting no matter what," the 22-year-old told reporters.

"Some matches I did not feel my serve, some matches backhand, forehand. But I was like 'just keep fighting'. That’s why I am really proud of and happy with this title."

It was the ninth title overall for the fourth-seeded Sabalenka, who now heads to Melbourne for the first major of the year at the Australian Open next month.

She will undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine period on her arrival. 

"I will keep improving my game, keep working on some things," Sabalenka said.

"It’s not about just staying in shape, there’s always something to work on and to improve. As soon as you stop working on improving your game, you will start losing."

Sabalenka broke her Russian opponent’s serve six times during Wednesday’s final and was particularly pleased with her return game during the tournament.

"My biggest dream is to win a Grand Slam. I think we all have the same dream, so nothing really special," Sabalenka said with a smile.