An emotional Aryna Sabalenka fought back from a set down to beat Elena Rybakina to win the Australian Open for her first Grand Slam singles title on Saturday. The hard-hitting Belarusian went to court in tears after beating the Wimbledon champion 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a high-quality 2-hour, 28-minute arm wrestling match at Rod Laver Arena. Sabalenka, 24, wiped a tear from her right eye before receiving a warm hug from Moscow native Rybakina, who played a full part in a great game between two hard hitters. Sabalenka, the fifth seed, then ran to her player box to celebrate joyfully with her team.
It was a fitting conclusion to two weeks of drama at Melbourne Park, marked by relentless groundstrokes, precise serves and beautiful rallies from two players at the top of their game.
Rybakina cruised through the first set in just 34 minutes, but Sabalenka scrambled back in a 57-minute second set to take it to a nervous decider.
It was then a matter of which of the big servers would blink first in a massive toe-to-toe battle.
At 3-3, Rybakina – who represents Kazakhstan – couldn’t find enough first serves and although she saved two break points, a third was too many and Sabalenka had the finish in sight.
An ace took her to 5-3 and Rybakina held on to force Sabalenka to test her nerve and serve for the championship.
She was up for the challenge, but needed four nerve-wracking match points after a display in which she hit 51 winners and 17 aces to get past the big-serving Rybakina.
Sabalenka will now rise to second in the world, tying her career high.
Rybakina will have the consolation of breaking into the top 10 for the first time, after her second Grand Slam final in seven months.
She received no ranking points for her win at Wimbledon due to the ban of Russian and Belarusian players there.
(This story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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