Aryna Sabalenka soars past Elena Rybakina to capture maiden Grand Slam at Australian Open 2023

Sabalenka lifted the 2023 Australian Open trophy on Saturday.
Sabalenka lifted the 2023 Australian Open trophy on Saturday.

Aryna Sabalenka staged an incredible comeback against reigning Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina in the summit clash of the 2023 Australian Open, capturing her maiden Grand Slam title.

Both women had begun the contest confidently, winning their first service games without much fuss. Sabalenka then squandered away a 40-0 advantage in the third game of the contest, giving away an early advtange to her opponent — who was quick to consolidate the break of serve and move to a 3-1 advantage.

Rybakina was dialed in on the serve and continued to do well in keeping the points short — not allowing the fifth seed any inroads into her service games, let alone a look at break points.

The Belarusian, however, continued to hold her own in the baseline exchanges. She pushed Rybakina side-to-side with her piercing crosscourt groundstrokes and managed to keep the difference to just one break as the duo went deep into the opening set.

Sabalenka struck back in the eighth game, finding a few big returns to push Rybakina on the backfoot to quickly find herself up 0-40. She leveled the contest at 4-4 on her second break point courtesy a stunning backhand pass up the line.

Sabalenka's first serve, however, completely disappeared on her as she dropped the next game — sending down two double faults in the process. It eased the pressure on Rybakina, allowing her to close out a 6-4 set.

After a tight couple of opening games, Sabalenka broke Rybakina's serve to move ahead in the second set. She held her serve after three deuces to finally have some daylight in the scoreline to lead 4-1. The fifth seed continued to soar and took the set 6-3 to level the final.

Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina turn up the heat in the Australian Open final's decider

Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina at the 2023 Australian Open.
Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina at the 2023 Australian Open.

With the Australian Open crown being within touching distance, both Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina turned up the heat on an already warmer-than-usual Melbourne night.

The duo opened the set with gritty holds, with Rybakina's serve — which was regularly hitting the 190-kmph mark — and Sabalenka's baseline hitting — that kept pushing her opponent from side-to-side and deeper into defence — keeping them in contention.

The weight and power of the Aryna Sabalenka forehand finally struck in the seventh game, when she hit two incredible winners down 15-30 to bring up break point. The Kazakh fended off a couple of opportunities with pinpoint serves, but the Belarusian made the most of two second serves — hitting her opponent off the court to seal the break.

There was only going to be one outcome going forward and even though she sent down a few nervy second serves, Aryna Sabalenka kept going after her shots and soon closed out the biggest win of her career 4-6. 6-3. 6-4 on a fourth championship point.

The contest lasted two hours and 28 minutes overall, with 26 aces and eight double faults raining down on the night from both players. Overall, Sabalenka won 110 points on the night, while Rybakina scored 103 from her racquet.

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Edited by Shyam Kamal
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