Aryna Sabalenka Defeats Elena Rybakina to Win Australian Open 2023

Sun Jan 29 2023
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Sports Desk

MELBOURNE: Belarusian fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated Elena Rybakina in three sets to win her first Grand Slam singles title in the Australian Open.

Outplayed in the opening set, Sabalenka fought back to overpower the reigning Wimbledon champion 4-6 6-3 6-4 in Melbourne.

In a nervous start, Sabalenka made five double faults and won only four points on the second serve in the first set which appeared to be a routine second grand slam for Rybakina who secured the first set in 34 minutes.

But the Sabalenka’s hits got more accurate and powerful in the second and third sets, with the Russian-born Kazakh losing momentum at crucial stages. Rybakina, who is also a big hitter, saw off three championship points but sent a forehand long on the fourth. Both went toe-to-toe in the third set, but it was Sabalenka who eventually broke through, ending a stunning final with 17 aces and 51 winners.

Sabalenka fell to the ground after victory

A teary-eyed Sabalenka fell to the ground as she won her maiden major, becoming the first player competing under a neutral flag to secure a grand slam. She then climbed to the players’ box to celebrate where her coach, Anton Dubrov, could be seen sobbing into a towel.

It was the first grand slam final for Minsk-born Sabalenka who had previously lost three major semifinals.

Amid the ongoing Ukraine war, tournament organiser Tennis Australia required Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutrals.

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