Australian Open: Sabalenka relishes prospect of more battles against Rybakina after first major win

Australian Open: Sabalenka relishes prospect of more battles against Rybakina after first major win

Belarusian Sabalenka was far from her best in the first set at Rod Laver Arena but made amends for her errant serve with a hard-hitting performance against Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 on Saturday.

The win over the 23-year-old marked Sabalenka’s 11th straight win to start the 2023 season, dropping to her knees in celebration after narrowly falling short of reaching three major semi-finals.

World number five Sabalenka has praised Rybakina, who sought to back up her triumph at Wimbledon in 2022, as she reflects on a maiden Grand Slam success.

“First of all I want to apologize for my English because I’m still shaking and I’m super nervous,” she said on court after her triumph.

“Second, it’s such an inspiration to receive this trophy from you.
King]. Thank you so much for everything you have done for our sport. I couldn’t be more grateful.

“I want to congratulate Elena for an amazing two weeks. You are such a great player.

“I hope we have a lot more battles and I hope
in the Grand Slam final.

“Congratulations to your team. You are amazing and you did such a great job.

“It was an amazing atmosphere. I hope next year I’ll come back even stronger and show you everything
even better tennis.”

Speaking to his own team, Sabalenka added: “We went through a lot of lows last year.

“We worked so hard and you deserve this trophy. It’s more about you than me. Thank you so much for everything you do for me. I love you.”

Aryna Sabalenka beat Elena Rybakina to win the Australian Open

Rybakina, the 22nd seed in Melbourne, beat grand champions Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka en route to the final amid a scintillating run in Australia.

But she slipped to a fourth straight defeat in head-to-head clashes with Sabalenka.

“I would like to congratulate Aryna for the title and a great start to the season. I know how hard you and your team have worked for this,” Rybakina said.

“Good luck for the rest of the season and hopefully we’ll have a lot more battles.

“I want to say a big thank you to my team for the great job we did; to my family, coach and president of the Federation of Kazakhstan, thank you very much for the support.

“I had goosebumps with this atmosphere and I can’t wait to come back next year. Next year I hope to do better.”