|Azarenka of Belarus poses with the winner's trophy after defeating Sharapova [AFP]
Victoria Azarenka routed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-3 to win the Indian Wells women's title on Sunday in the WTA Tour's first final between the No. 1 and No. 2 players since 2008.
Azarenka broke Sharapova six times in improving her record to 23-0 this year, the best start to a season since Martina Hingis went 37-0 to open 1997.
"I was just trying to do my best because I know Maria is fighting," Azarenka said.
"I always try to stay focused and apply as much pressure as I can."
Earlier at Indian Wells, she passed Serena Williams's 2003 win streak of 21 straight matches and now has her sights set on catching Hingis.
"I never dreamed about that. It is amazing," she said of the win streak.
"I am so glad I am able to be consistent, disciplined and professional every day."
The top-ranked Belarusian earned $1 million for her Tour-leading fourth title of the year.
It was a rematch of the Australian Open final, which Azarenka won 6-3, 6-0 in January to keep Sharapova from regaining the No. 1 ranking.
This time, Sharapova was error-prone during the 1½-hour match on an unusually cold, windy day in the desert. The second-ranked Russian kept hitting close to the lines and missing.
No. 3 Roger Federer is set to play American John Isner in the men's final later.
Azarenka broke Sharapova in the final game, when the Russian double-faulted then shanked a forehand to set up Azarenka's first match point. She won after forcing Sharapova into a desperation defensive shot that sailed beyond the baseline.
Azarenka dropped her racket, pumped her right arm and broke into a brief dance while smiling broadly.
It was yet another dominant performance by Azarenka, who improved to 5-3 against Sharapova, including 4-0 in finals.
Sharapova hasn't beaten Azarenka in a completed match since 2009; she won last year in Rome when Azarenka
retired in the second set with a right elbow injury.
Sharapova twice had aces to hold serve in the first set, but her groundstrokes were inconsistent. Azarenka led 4-1 in the second set when Sharapova won two straight games to get to 4-3, capped by a swinging forehand volley winner.
But Sharapova won just two points in the final two games to fall to 13-3 on the year.