Australian Open 2023: Aryna Sabalenka fights back to beat Elena Rybakina and win first Grand Slam title
Belarusian fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka battled back from a set down to beat Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open final.
Sabalenka, who won under a neutral flag because of Belarus’ support of Russia’s war in Ukraine, won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an absorbing contest in Melbourne.
Wimbledon champion Rybakina took the first set but was unable to win her second Slam as Sabalenka fought back to win her first Grand Slam singles title.
Sabalenka could not convert her first three championship points but held her nerve at the fourth opportunity and sealed the title when Rybakina hit a forehand long.
Sabalenka received the trophy from Billie Jean King. The 24-year-old said: “It’s such an inspiration to receive this trophy from you. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for our support. I couldn’t be more thankful.
“Thank you to my team, the craziest team on tour. We’ve been through a lot of downs last year. We worked so hard and you guys deserve this trophy. This is more about you than about me. Thank you so much for everything you do for me. I love you guys.
“Thank you for an amazing atmosphere. I hope next year I can come back stronger, can show you even better tennis and you guys will support me once more.”