AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2012: Victoria Azarenka beats Maria Sharapova to win final

Azarenka on top of the world after storming to Australian Open glory over Sharapova

Victoria Azarenka has claimed her maiden grand slam title at the Australian Open to leap to the top of the world rankings.

Azarenka was too strong for Maria Sharapova in Melbourne, thrashing the 2008 champion 6-3, 6-0 in just one hour and 22 minutes.

On top of the world: Azarenka stormed to victory over Sharapova with a dominant display on the Rod Laver Arena

On top of the world: Azarenka stormed to victory over Sharapova with a dominant display on the Rod Laver Arena

In addition to winning the Daphne
Akhurst Memorial Cup, the victory also meant the Belarusian will become
the new world No 1 on Monday, replacing Caroline Wozniacki.

The manner of her victory, and the
impressive way she controlled her emotions towards the end, suggests she
may be there for some time.

On her knees: The Belarusian celebrates after romping to a straight-sets victory over Sharapova

On her knees: The 22-year-old celebrates after romping to a straight-sets victory over Sharapova

Maiden title: Azarenka claimed her first grand slam success with victory over Sharapova on Saturday

Maiden title: Azarenka claimed her first grand slam success with victory over Sharapova on Saturday

With so much up for grabs, it was perhaps understandable that the opening exchanges were error-strewn.

Azarenka's nerves were certainty
evident early on. She was able to save one break point in the opening
game but then pushed a backhand wide on the second as Sharapova made the
first move.

Victoria Azarenka

Maria Sharapova

Contrasting fortunes: Sharapova was no match for Azarenka on Saturday

When she slipped 0-2 0-30 down, her
camp must have been fearing the worst but she dragged it back to 40-30
and then got on the scoreboard with a blistering forehand down the line.

The confidence suddenly returned to
the Belarusian and she broke back to love to level it at 2-2 and
followed that with a routine hold to edge ahead.

Number one: Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka celebrates

Number one: Azarenka will be on top of the rankings after her grand slam success Down Under

While Sharapova was happy to simply trade groundstrokes from the baseline, Azarenka was displaying more variety.

Having held for 4-3 with a clever drop shot-lob combination she then broke with some adventurous net play.

A drive volley gave her a second
break point and she took it with another drop shot which Sharapova could
only scrape up and her opponent was on hand to volley into the open
court.

She had no problems in serving it out
and remained on the front foot at the start of the second set, breaking
with a stunning forehand winner after Sharapova had hit a drive-volley
straight to her on the baseline.

The Russian was being outgunned and
although she did create an immediate break back opportunity, Azarenka
slammed the door to move 2-0 ahead. It then became 3-0 as Sharapova, who
was starting to look dispirited, thrashed another wayward backhand into
the tramlines.

Azarenka was relentless and Sharapova powerless to prevent her from running away with it.

The 22-year-old broke again for 5-0
and, despite Sharapova's best efforts to extend the match, she completed
a quite stunning victory in one hour and 22 minutes.