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Australian Open: Sabalenka Claims Maiden Grand Slam in Melbourne

Aryna Sabalenka is the 2023 Australian Open women’s singles champion. After a rocky start, the 24-year-old Belarusian came from behind to beat Elena Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the final.

It was an emotional moment for Sabalenka, who finally broke through to win the first Grand Slam singles title of her career.

Tennis legend John McEnroe was mightily impressed with what he saw from both finalists as he pegged the two to emerge as challengers to world No 1 Iga Swiatek’s dominance in the WTA Tour.

Meanwhile, former world No 1 Ashleigh Barty made a surprise return to Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open final.

Read on below as SBOTOP rounds up all the news and updates from the recently concluded Australian Open women’s singles tournament.

Aryna Sabalenka crowned Australian Open women’s champion

Aryna Sabalenka defeated Elena Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the final of the 2023 Australian Open women’s singles tournament to clinch her first career Grand Slam title.

Sabalanka, the No 5-ranked player on the WTA Tour Rankings, was the favourite to win according to the Australian Open 2023 odds, but she made a rough start to the final as she dropped the opening set amid a rash of errors.

But the Belarusian bounced back as she unleashed a barrage of winners and aces in the succeeding sets to take the title in comeback fashion.

Sabalenka had some struggles closing out the match as she failed to convert three match points. But she finally converted on the fourth attempt to seal the victory after nearly two-and-a-half hours.

All the emotions then came flooding in for the 24-year-old, who finally reached that career milestone of her first Grand Slam title.

“It’s everything in one moment. It’s kind of relief because I’ve been in the top 10 – one of the top 10 players – but I didn’t have a Grand Slam trophy yet,” Sabalenka said post-match.

“That’s been really tough to get, super emotional, every Slam was super emotional, and right now, when I finally get it, it’s relief – it’s joy. I’m just proud of myself, of my team and everyone, you know.”

Sabalenka, who has won all 11 of her matches this season, will move up to No 2 in the WTA rankings, 4,385 points behind world No 1 Iga Swiatek. Meanwhile, Rybakina will make her debut in the top 10.

McEnroe thinks Sabalenka, Rybakina are ‘threats’ to Swiatek

Tennis legend John McEnroe hailed Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina as ‘threats’ to world No 1 Iga Swiatek after watching their thrilling Australian Open final.

McEnroe praised Sabalenka for how she overcame some early obstacles and showed her mental and emotional resilience en route to winning the title. But the American came away impressed with both players and now sees them as legitimate contenders to Swiatek’s dominance of the WTA Tour.

Iga Swiatek failed to beat Elena Rybakina to reach the finals of the Australian Open
Poland’s Iga Swiatek looks dejected after her fourth round match against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina

“I think they’re both going to be real challengers now for Iga Swiatek and that’s a very good thing,” McEnroe said.

“They’ll obviously both have a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. I hope that the politics won’t disturb Sabalenka. You have to wonder what will happen in Wimbledon. So hopefully that’s not going to be an issue.

“As far as their tennis abilities, yes they can be a threat to Swiatek.”

After looking good in the opening rounds, Swiatek suffered a shock fourth-round exit, which was easily the most surprising of the Australian Open 2023 results. But the 21-year-old Pole will be eager to bounce back when she returns to action in the upcoming tournaments in the Middle East.

Hometown hero Ashleigh Barty gets rousing ovation on return to court

Ashleigh Barty stunned the tennis world when she announced her retirement in March 2022. That was despite winning the Australian Open last year, the first Aussie to do so in 44 years. She had also been No 1 in the WTA Tour year-end rankings for three straight years.

But Barty made a triumphant return to Melbourne as she emerged to deliver the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy ahead of the Australian Open women’s final. Unsurprisingly, the hometown hero received a rousing ovation from her fellow Aussies as she handed over the trophy.Indeed, it was a bitter blow for the WTA Tour to lose one of its best players. But Barty, who announced earlier this year that she is pregnant, is at peace with her decision and is ready for the next phase of her life after a relatively brief but remarkably successful tennis career.



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