Aryna Sabalenka is the 2023 Australian Open women’s singles champion.
The 24-year-old Belarusian beat Elena Rybakina in three sets. Though Sabalenka dropped her first set in 2023, 4-6; she stormed back to take the last two sets, 6-3, 6-4, to confirm her strong start to the WTA season and take her singles record for the year to 11-0.
Not droping a set throughout the two-week tournament, Sabalenka served off the match and took the first game, but Rybakina held serve and broke the No. 5 seed in the third game before holding serve in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead. Sabalenka broke back in the eighth game to tie the set 4-4. But she could not hold, and Rybakina took the next two games to win the first set 6-4 in 34 minutes.
Sabalenka served off the second set and held serve, breaking Rybakina in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead. The reigning Wimbledon champion got back on the scoreboard in the sixth game as Sabalenka held a 4-2 lead.
After about one and a half hours, the match was square as Sabalenka won the second set 6-3.
The third set took almost an hour as both players held serve until the seventh game, when Sabalenka broke through to take a 4-3 lead. She then held serve to take a 5-3 lead. Rybakina held serve in the ninth game to heap pressure on the Belarusian to serve out the match.
The final game lasted 10 minutes, with Rybakina conceding defeat with an unforced error. Sabalenka served 16 aces to Rybakina’s nine, but she conceded seven double faults, though she had 51 winners to Rybakina’s 31.
Afterward, Sabalenka said in the post-match interview, “I want to say sorry for my English because I’m still shaking,” Sabalenka said.
“I’m super nervous. It’s such an inspiration to receive this trophy from you [Billie Jean King]. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for our sport.”
Sabalenka then turned her attention towards Rybakina, who she commended for a tough encounter. “You’re such a great player. Of course, we are going to have many more battles, hopefully in the finals of a Grand Slam.”
Sabalenka, who had revealed her working on being calm on court, also commended her coaching team, lead by Anton Dubrov.
“We’ve been through a lot of downs last year. We worked so hard. You guys deserve this trophy. It’s more about you than it is about me. Thank you so much for everything you are doing for me. I love you guys.”
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