Melbourne, Australia, Jan 28 (EFE).- Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title on Saturday after a thrilling 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina.
Sabalenka was overcome with emotion after finally converting her fourth championship point during a nervy conclusion to the match, as wayward serving – so often her downfall during her career so far – threatened to derail her bid to win her first major singles trophy.
But the fifth-seeded Belarussian, known for her aggressive style, stuck to her guns throughout a hugely entertaining final, hitting 16 aces as she beat the 23-year-old Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion after coming from a set down.
“I want to congratulate Elena for an incredible two weeks,” Sabalenka said during the trophy presentation. “I hope we have many more battles and hopefully in finals of Grand Slams.”
The victory sees Sabalenka, who had not dropped a set in the tournament until the final, rise to second in the WTA rankings on the back of an unbeaten, 11-match run this season that also saw her win in Adelaide.
Rybakina, meanwhile, more than played her part in a memorable final, consistently challenging her more athletic and powerful opponent with composure and an aggressive ground game.
“I would like to congratulate Aryna on the title and a great start to the season. I know how hard you have worked for that and your team,” the Kazakh star said.
Rybakina is widely expected to regularly feature on at the business end of major tournaments for years to come, having already won Wimbledon last year and defeating three Grand Slam winners en route to the final in Melbourne Park. EFE