crowned at the Australian Open, a first double title for Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka is not the first player from her country to win a Grand Slam singles title – she is preceded by Victoria Azarenka – but she will go down in history as the first to be crowned a Grand Slam “under a neutral banner. in the context of the war in Ukraine. For her baptism in the final of a Major in singles, the 24-year-old Belarusian overthrew, on Saturday January 28, the Kazakh Elena Rybakina (4-6, 6-3, 6-4) without having the right to her anthem or to his flag during the trophy presentation ceremony at Rod Laver Arena.

A victory as a reward for daring rather than experience in this poster of hitters perched at roughly the same height (1.84 m for Rybakina; 1.82 m for Sabalenka), but with large segments radically different: slender for the Kazakh (born in Moscow), powerful for the Belarusian. Two archetypes of modern tennis, in short.

Rybakina, however, had the favor of the forecasts, weighted with his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July 2022. A victory under the nose and the beard of the members of the venerable All England Club, who had decided during this edition like no other to ban Russian and Belarusian players, in response to the invasion of Ukraine at the end of February 2022 by Russia, with the help of Minsk. The winner of the day, Aryna Sabalenka, had therefore been deprived of playing the prestigious tournament on grass.

Read also: Elena Rybakina, a coronation that crumples Wimbledon

Forehand Power

On Saturday, the more experienced of the two players first took control of the final. The Kazakh locked the Belarusian in the backhand diagonal and made the difference on her face-off, her master weapon, where her opponent was permanently on a wire. After having conceded for the first time its commitment at the start of the set, the 5e World Cup recovered at 4-4 before falling back into its traps in the next game: it released its service on a fourth double fault, abandoning the first set to Rybakina (6-4).

The outcome of the match was already taking shape, but the tension suddenly changed sides in the second set. The service of the Kazakh went wrong, Sabalenka took the opportunity to fly away 4-1, even missing in the next game three double break points synonymous with K.-O. Was it her record against the Belarusian – who led before the final 3 to zero in their confrontations – who caught up with her? Rybakina lost his first ball and control of the match, when his opponent redoubled his application and aggressiveness, evacuating his aggressiveness and his determination under the decibels. The Belarusian missed two set points at 5-2. But barely a few minutes later, she was logically rewarded for her audacity and came back to one set everywhere (6-3).

You have 52.1% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

source site-28