Aryna Sabalenka is the new queen of the Australian Open. The Belarusian tennis player, in a comeback, beats the Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, and in her first Grand Slam final of her career, she hits the prestigious title.
Sabalenka, who had won the previous three head-to-head, maintains her unbeaten run despite losing the first set of the season, and extends her streak to eleven. The 4-6 6-3 6-4 fully reflects the pace of the match. The new world number two starts badly and then manages in an extraordinary way until the victory, thanks also to 19 aces and 48 winners, against 26 unforced errors.
Nothing to do for Rybakina, who evidently also pays for the tiredness accumulated during the tournament, and who between the second and third sets, she clings almost exclusively to her serve. Between the round of 16 and the semifinals, she had beaten three Grand Slam champions: Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka.
The service settles the balance of the first set. At least in games without breaks. The Kazakh tennis player breaks the balance immediately, she lets herself be caught again on 4-3, but balance the challenge on 4-4, and with the serve available to her, she puts her head forward.
Aryna Sabalenka beats Elena Rybakina to claim the Australian Open title
Things change considerably in the second set, with Rybakina losing a minimum of fluidity in the prolonged rallies, and Sabalenka, who limits the number of unforced errors.
The Belarusian settles the decisive blow at 2-1, she gets out of trouble at 30-30 with the backhand service pattern, but she loses control of the forehand when leaving the service in the immediately following fifteen. Sabalenka commits a sensational double fault on the tie, but once again with the first shot, she coming out of service, and she rebuilds the tie, and then she locks the lead on 4-1 at the third useful opportunity.
Always with the most consolidated of schemes. Sabalenka lets her shots go much more and with two winning backhands she builds 15-30 on Rybakina’s serve. Despite everything, she misreads the moment and doesn’t take advantage of three balls to make it 5-1.
Rybakina somehow remains hooked to the set, also thanks to the support of the first serve, she cancels two set points on 2-5 and even hoists herself on 30-30 in the moment of maximum difficulty. Sabalenka does not tremble and at the first useful opportunity she equalizes the count of the sets and sends everything back to the third and decisive set.
After an apparently flat moment, Sabalenka is the first to change something in the tactical plan. Needless to say on 2-2 30-30 she lowers the pace of the rallies to then sting the Kazakh on the forehand line with a splendid swing.
Rybakina turns the situation around with two winning firsts and gets the game back on her feet, but with the fuel needle close to zero she fails to keep serve afterwards. Sabalenka, who responds incredibly lucidly, takes the advantage that allows her to win.
Even if right at 5-4 she is one step away from the finish line she condenses the vast majority of doubts and she needs four match points to close. Photo Credits: pic by AFP
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