Sabalenka beats doubles partner Mertens to win WTA Linz title

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Sabalenka (R) beat her doubles partner Mertens (L) in the final
Sabalenka (R) beat her doubles partner Mertens (L) in the final

Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka finished the 2020 WTA season in style, winning her third title of the year with a straight-sets victory over her doubles partner Elise Mertens in the Linz final on Sunday.

Top seed Sabalenka saw off the second-seeded Mertens 7-5, 6-2 to tie Simona Halep for most tournament triumphs in the coronavirus-disrupted season.

The usual year-ending WTA Finals in China were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving the event in Austria as the last of the campaign.

Sabalenka has now won nine straight matches after also taking the title in Ostrava last month.

"This is something amazing," Sabalenka told wtatennis. "I don't want to say anything, and just cross my fingers so more wins come to me.

"This is the perfect end to my season, so I can be happy and relaxed for my holidays and pre-season. I'll keep working to make sure I can maintain this level next season."

It was the 22-year-old's eighth career title, but she has still never reached a Grand Slam quarter-final.

"At Grand Slams, I would think about how big they are, and put a lot of pressure on myself," she admitted.

"I'll try not to do that again, and know that everything I have to do is just go on court, bring my level, and give everything I have. That's what I'll focus on, on what I can control."

Belgium's Mertens remains without a trophy since the Qatar Open in February 2019.

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