Aryna Sabalenka is officially a Grand Slam singles champion.
The 24-year-old powerhouse from Belarus defeated Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina in the 2023 Australian Open final 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at a packed Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.
"I'm just super happy. Proud. I don't know how to explain," Sabalenka said after the match. "Just the best -- is the best day of my life right now."
In the first set, Rybakina's experience as a major singles title winner kicked in immediately as she broke the No. 5 seed's serve in the second game. The No. 22 seed continued to show confidence in the opening set as she broke Sabalenka's serve again to gain a 5-4 lead before closing out the final game at love.
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In the second set, Melbourne fans got to see the Sabalenka they had been watching for the past two weeks. It was the Belarusian who was unstoppable in her serving and aggressive tennis while making minimal unforced errors. She ended the second set with 21 winners to just 10 unforced errors to force the match to a third set.
The third set was phenomenal tennis from both ends of the court with each player swinging freely. Ultimately, it was a competition in which player could gain control of the point first. Serving for the match up 5-4, Sabelnka had a hard time closing out, failing to convert three championship points. On the fourth match point, Sabelnka was able to force a final forehand error from Rybakina.
"I'm really happy that it wasn't easy match," Sabalenka said. "I really enjoyed this battle."
Sabalenka's serving was key to her success in the final, producing 17 aces with a 65% first serve percentage. This stat was crucial for the Belarusian as Rybakina made it clear she would attack any weak second serves that came her way.
The No. 5 seed also accumulated 51 winners to Rybakina's 31 while going 7/8 at net points won.
Entering the final, Sabalenka had won only two major doubles titles at the U.S. Open (2019) and Australian Open (2021) with partner Belgium's Elise Mertens. On the other hand, Rybakina was crowned singles champion at the 2022 Wimbledon after she defeated Tunisia's Ons Jabeur.
Win the win, Sabalenka will become the new world No. 2 while Rybakina will slide back world No. 10.
"Well, I will have some good pizza, of course, and a lot of sweets," Sabalenka said about celebrating the new milestone. "Maybe a little bit of Champagne. Cheers."