Aryna Sabalenka, a fifth-seeded Belarusian, defeated Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open final by rallying to claim her maiden Grand Slam singles victory.
Because Belarus supports Russia’s war in Ukraine, Sabalenka competed in Melbourne under a neutral flag and struck 51 wins. Her high-risk strategy came off.
Rybakina of Kazakhstan failed to add a second Slam to her Wimbledon victory.
The 24-year-old Sabalenka won 4-6 6-3 6-4 in a thrilling match that highlighted both players’ strengths.
Instead, Sabalenka realized her long-seen promise and added her name to the elite group of people to win a major championship.
Sabalenka lost her first three match points—a tense double fault, a wide forehand, and a long backhand—but she maintained composure throughout by saving a break point with a solid first serve.
She crossed the finish line on her fourth attempt after Rybakina’s long forehand.
Sabalenka, overcome with joy and excitement, cried joyfully and immediately fell to the court, covering her face.
She stood back up, hugged Rybakina, and then went to her squad to celebrate, causing her coach Anton Dubrov to cry.
We had a lot of ups and downs last year, Sabalenka stated as she addressed her team while holding the prize. We put in a lot of effort, and you guys deserve this award. You are the focus of this more than I am.
“I sincerely appreciate everything you do for me. I adore you all.