ARYNA Sabalenka has won her first Grand Slam singles title after fighting back to beat Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open women’s singles final today at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
In a tough contest which was an exhibit of the power of both players, 24-year-old Sabalenka prevailed 4-6 6-3 6-4 after losing the first set.
The fifth seed from Belarus, who won under a neutral flag because of her country’s support of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, hit an impressive 51 winners to earn her maiden major title.
Kazakhstan’s Rybakina was unable to add a second Slam to her Wimbledon title.
Sabalenka has is unbeaten in 11 matches in 2023 and becomes the 58th different woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era.
Remarkably, Rybakina and Sabalenka have now met four times in WTA matches and Sabalenka has won each of the four, with all going the full three sets.
Rybakina was coming to the final in great form after becoming the first women’s player since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to beat three Grand Slam winners in one edition of the Australian Open in Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka.
But Sabalenka was too good on the day and the new champion praised her vanquished opponent in her victory speech.
“I want to say sorry for my English because I’m still shaking,” Sabalenka said as she was presented with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy by icon Billie Jean King.
“I’m super nervous. It’s such an inspiration to receive this trophy from you. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for our sport.”
Sabalenka then turned her attentions towards Rybakina and added: “You’re such a great player.
“Of course we are going to have many more battles, hopefully in the finals of a Grand Slam.”