Sabalenka turns on Ribakina to win Australian Open in impeccable start to season


Belorussian tennis player Arina Sabalenka beat Kazakh Elena Ribakina this Saturday (28), by 2 sets to 1 (4/6, 6/3 and 6/4), and is the champion of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of your career.

With the unprecedented title in Melbourne, the number 5 tennis player in the world reaches the vice-leadership of the ranking, behind only the Polish Iga Swiatek, defeated by Sabalenka’s rival in the quarterfinals of the Australian tournament.

The conquest crowns a so far impeccable season for the Belarusian: she now has 11 wins in 11 matches and, until the final, she had not lost a single set.

In this century, only Anna Smashnova (in 2002) and Agnieszka Radwanska (in 2013) had a streak of 20 games played and 20 won, according to the WTA, the association of professional tennis players.

The start of the game this Saturday demanded from her precisely the power of reaction that she hasn’t had to show so far this year. Ribakina broke her serve twice, closed the first set at 6-4 and showed more confidence than the Belorussian at the start of the match.

In the second set, however, Sabalenka prevailed in very tough games, with several exchanges of advantage after ties at 40 equals, and closed the stage at 6 to 3.

The third partial started well contested like the others. After a 3-3 draw, in a very aggressive game by the two tennis players and several wasted break points, Sabalenka finally broke Ribakina’s service and put herself on the way to victory.

In the tense last game of the match, Sabalenka needed four match points against her rival’s resilience to confirm the comeback and win her first Grand Slam in a singles tournament.

The winner took 2.97 million Australian dollars (about R$ 10.8 million) in prize money.

Until this Saturday’s decision, the two had met three times on the professional circuit. Coincidentally, three Sabalenka wins, and all required the tiebreaker set.

Neither had reached the final of the Australian Open before and, were it not for Ribakina’s victory at Wimbledon in 2022, it would be the first Slam final of the two tennis players in a singles tournament. In doubles, Sabalenka won the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open in 2021 with Belgian Elise Mertens.

The final of the men’s singles tournament is scheduled for this Sunday (29), at 5:30 am, between the Serbian Novak Djokovic – deported from Australia at last year’s Slam for entering the country without a vaccine – and the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. ESPN channel 2 broadcasts the match.

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