Aryna Sabalenka believes she can bring her Australian Open dominance to other grand slams after lifting a second successive title in Melbourne.
The Belarusian will stay world number two behind Iga Swiatek but that could well change this year if Sabalenka can maintain her impressive consistency at the majors.
In the last five slams, Sabalenka has won two titles, reached another final on hard courts at the US Open and never lost before the semi-finals, while Swiatek’s only run to the last four saw her retain her French Open title.
Getting the better of Swiatek at Roland Garros is likely to be Sabalenka’s biggest challenge but she certainly has the game for grass and, with more composure, could have reached all four finals last year.
“I think last year I proved that I can play on each surface,” said the 25-year-old. “I think those two semi-finals I got super emotional.
“I played against incredible players, and they just played an unbelievable level, but I felt like I got super emotional and I just let those semis go away.
“But I definitely think that if I’m going to keep working like I’m working right now, and if we’re going to keep building what we are building right now, I’m definitely able to do the same on the clay and on the grass.
“So then I’ll just keep working hard and hopefully this year I’ll achieve the same goal.”
It was a statement fortnight from Sabalenka, who did not drop a set through seven matches, with only Coco Gauff in the semi-finals taking more than five games off her.
Speaking on Eurosport, former British number one Laura Robson said: “To deliver that kind of performance across the two weeks, getting better and better, I feel like the rest of the players in the locker room are thinking ‘uh oh’ for the rest of the season.”
There is certainly no sign of Sabalenka being happy with two titles, and the calm manner with which she demolished the rest of the field will give her rivals plenty of pause for thought.
She is now two slam titles behind Swiatek, and was relieved to escape the box of one-slam wonder.
“Actually it’s been in my mind that I didn’t want to be that player who won it and then disappeared,” she said.
“I just wanted to show that I’m able to be consistently there and I’m able to win another one. I really hope that (it will be) more than two, but for me it was really important.”
Sabalenka’s ambitions are shared by her coaches, with fitness trainer Jason Stacy, saying: “We’re the coaches in our different areas but during the match and straight after the match, we’re already talking about the things we need to work on.”
Stacy has been walking around Melbourne Park with Sabalenka’s signature written in pen by the world number two on his bald head.
It is part of the team’s efforts to keep things light and fun off court, although Stacy is ready to draw the line at the next suggestion.
“It might get worse actually,” he said. “Now they’re trying to say I’ve got to get a tattoo of this on my head. I’m like, ‘I don’t know about that’. Every tournament we always find some thing we’re doing and we just kind of go with that.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub