Aryna Sabalenka’s the 2023 Australian Open champion. The fifth seed defeated Elena Rybakina in an absolutely entertaining and qualitative final on Saturday. After two hours and 28 minutes, Sabalenka won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Both players won 71% of their first-serve points but Sabalenka did better when it came to winning second-serve points, finishing with 47% to Rybakina’s 44%.
The fastest serve of the day was struck by the champion at 195 km/h while Rybakina’s fastest serve was placed at 192 km/h.
Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka’s scintillating run
Sabalenka outhit Rybakina’s tally of 31 winners by 20 more.
However, at the start of the match, it was the 24-year-old whose game came under pressure even as the Kazakh played composedly. Sabalenka went down a break early on in the first set and that loss of serve affected her game for the rest of the set.
The only time in the set that Rybakina’s serve came under pressure was in the eighth game when she lost her serve to bring back the proceedings on serve at four-all. However, Sabalenka was unable to hold her own serve in the ninth game and Rybakina served it out to go up in the match.
The loss of the set brought forth a change in the fortunes of both players. Sabalenka, who’d not dropped a set all through her time in Australia this year, rebounded strongly. She saved a couple of break points in the opening game of the second set and after having saved them to put herself on the scoreboard, went about asserting her game on her opponent, whose level of play dropped significantly.
A break in the fourth game was the reward Sabalenka secured for herself and although her serve did come under pressure as she tried to consolidate the break, her serve came to her rescue and helped her go up 4-1 in the set.
As pressure kept telling on Rybakina, the 23-year-old wasn’t able to come up with answers to counter Sabalenka’s powerful winners that poured from all parts of the court. After having levelled the second set, Sabalenka went about replicating the same effort in the deciding set.
Despite the proceedings remaining on serve until the sixth game, it was obvious Rybakina was playing catch up to Sabalenka. Throughout the set, Sabalenka didn’t face any break point. She also secured the lone break of the set in the seventh game.
Serving for the title in the 10th game, Sabalenka needed four championship points before she converted the win and dropped to the court, with tears streaming from her eyes. Speaking after having received the trophy from Billie Jean King, Sabalenka said, “I want to say sorry for my English because I’m still shaking.
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”. The 2023 Australian Open’s Aryna Sabalenka’s first Slam title, coming in the first Slam final of her career.
On Monday, Sabalenka will regain her previous career-high of no. 2 in the world. Meanwhile, Elena Rybakina will enter the top-10 of the WTA rankings for the first time, as the world no. 10. Photo Credit: Australian Open Twitter
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