Aryna Sabalenka defeated Elena Rybakina to win the Australian Open
Sabalenka won a first major prize of her career. © Quinn Rooney / Getty Images
Aryna Sabalenka won the first Grand Slam title of her career as the Belarusian fought back from one set down to defeat Elena Rybakina in a pulsating Australian Open final on Saturday.
Appearing in a maiden major final, fifth seed Sabalenka found herself behind after an imposing start from Rybakina saw the reigning Wimbledon champion claim the opening set 6-4. But Sabalenka gradually exerted her own big-hitting game and leveled the match by taking the second set 6-3.
Both players continued to produce some dazzling shot-making at Rod Laver Arena in a battle befitting the occasion. It was Sabalenka who made the crucial move by breaking Rybakina’s serve in game seven of the decisive set. Despite a wobble as she saw three match points slip away, Sabalenka held her never to serve out the final set 6-4 and take the title with it.
On sealing victory, the 24-year-old collapsed onto her back and covered her face in disbelief as she celebrated by far the biggest prize in her career. Sabalenka will also rise to number two in the world in the updated WTA ratings on Monday – matching her career-best position.