Sabalenka took just 33 minutes to race through a 6-3 win in the first set at Melbourne Park.
This is Sabalenka’s second Grand Slam title while Zheng was gunning for a first.
Sabalenka became the first woman to defend the Australian Open title since 2013.
It capped an incredible display of power and poise from Sabalenka over the past fortnight, with the 25-year-old surging to the title without losing a set through her seven matches.
The Belarusian matched the achievement of compatriot Victoria Azarenka, who won the tournament in 2012 and 2013.
The Belarusian opened with a comfortable serve then got a look at two break points at 15-40 in Zheng’s opening service game when the Chinese star sprayed a backhand wide.
“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks. I couldn’t imagine myself lifting this trophy one more time and it’s an unbelievable feeling right now. I’m really speechless,” she said.
Sabalenka also had words of encouragement for Zheng.
“I know this feeling — it is tough to lose in a final but you are such an incredible player, such a young girl. You are going to be in many more finals and you are going to get it,” she said.
She seized the chance, attacking her opponent’s second serve for the break.
Sabalenka consolidated on serve for 3-0, but only after saving three break points as Zheng’s nerves settled and she worked to get into the contest.
The Chinese star finally got on the board as her serve hit its mark in game four, with two big unreturnable aces and a forehand winner giving her confidence.
But she had few answers to the booming Sabalenka serve, struggling to get the ball back over the net and into any rallies.
Zheng saved three set points with a pair of aces and a winner to hold for 3-5, but it was delaying the inevitable as Sabalenka closed out the set on serve in 33 minutes.
Three double faults, including on break point, immediately put Zheng on the back foot on the second set as the pressure took its toll.
And there was no way back as she conceded another break to slump 4-1 behind when Sabalenka prefectly played a drop shot.
Fighting until the end, Zheng saved four championship points before the second seed closed out the match to bank her 14th career title.
Despite the loss, it has been a breakthrough tournament for Zheng, who will move into the world’s top 10 when the new rankings are released next week.
Sabalenka will remain at number two behind Iga Swiatek, who crashed out in the third round.
(With AFP inputs)
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