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Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka clinches first-ever major title, defeats Rybakina in final
Melbourne: Belarus tennis star Aryna Sabalenka clinched her first Grand Slam title by defeating Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina in the final of the Australian Open women's singles competition on Saturday.
Aryna warded off the Kazakh challenge by 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to win the title. Sabalenka owns one of the most coveted titles in the sport after all the accolades and expectations from one of the hardest strikers in the game.
The match featured two of the most fearless offensive players, with both striking 82 winners between them, with 51 of them coming from Belarusian. But the undaunting play of the number 5 seed during the tense moments of the match made the difference.
Rybakina made a great start to the match, clinching a closely-contested first set by 6-4.
Following that, Sabalenka made a comeback with a 6-3 win in the second set.
In the third set, both players were tied at 3-3. Sabalenka had her third break opportunity of the game and blistered a second-serve return and finished the point with a midcourt overhead winner to restore her lead. In the next game, she finished swiftly with an ace and took a 5-3 lead. But Rybakina delayed her opponent's win to make it 5-4.
Sabalenka took to the court to finish off the match and at her fourth match point, Sabalenka fell to the court joyously as Rybakina hit a forehand long, giving the Belarusian a win.
Sabalenka had more aces, 17 as compared to nine by her opponent, more winners, 51 as compared to 31 by Rybakina and overall points, getting 109 points as compared to 103 points by Rybakina.
Sabalenka received the championship trophy from the legendary American tennis player Billie Jean King, whom she thanked for everything she's done for women's sport.
"I am still shaking and super nervous. My team -- the craziest team on tour, I would say. We have been through a lot of ups and downs the last year. We worked so hard. You guys deserve this trophy, it is more about you than me," said Aryna as quoted by WTA.
"I know how hard you have worked for that," Rybakina said, congratulating Sabalenka.
"Hopefully we are going to have many more battles," added Rybakina.
Sabalenka is the 58th different woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era. The last one to do it was Rybakina at Wimbledon last year. (ANI)