Aryna Sabalenka ascended to the ranks of Grand Slam champion on Saturday after coming from a set down to defeat Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Australian Open final.
Sabalenka, 24, extended her winning streak to 11 straight matches, having also won Adelaide 1 to start her season. She has now won four three-setters against Rybakina in as many encounters.
Rybakina, who won her first major at Wimbledon last year, backed it up by knocking out three straight Grand Slam champions -- Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka -- to reach a second final. The 23-year-old Rybakina will break the Top 10 as a result.
The 2-hour, 28-minute contest was too close to call for much of its duration and had social media abuzz until the end. After Sabalenka sealed her fourth match point, tributes began to pour in from the tennis world.
Fellow major champions Bianca Andreescu and Victoria Azarenka were among those congratulating Sabalenka, along with two-time Grand Slam finalist Ons Jabeur and former Indian Wells titlist Paula Badosa. Jabeur also offered a cheeky reasoning behind Sabalenka's success.
Well deserved @SabalenkaA !!! I guess no sugar helped eh 😂😆— Bianca (@Bandreescu_) January 28, 2023
Amazing! Congratulations! What a well deserved win and the entire tournament! Impressive ❤️ @SabalenkaA https://t.co/tnEP8Y9uhk— victoria azarenka (@vika7) January 28, 2023
Wow What a Final ladies 🔥🔥🔥huge congrats to @SabalenkaA You really deserve it ❤️— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) January 28, 2023
Hard luck Elena I am sure you will win more grand slams 🙏🙏
One of the reasons why @SabalenkaA won today. She practiced with me… 🤣🤣🤣well at least I like to think that.. pic.twitter.com/QsrXJpZkRo— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) January 28, 2023
Arynaaaaaaaaa 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🥺🥺🥺❤️❤️❤️ @SabalenkaA— Paula Badosa (@paulabadosa) January 28, 2023
Bravo Aryna 🙌🙌🙌😘 @SabalenkaA https://t.co/BnK4z5GZeQ— Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) January 28, 2023
Amazing final from both 🙌🏽 and so happy for Aryna!🤩— A (@AnisimovaAmanda) January 28, 2023
Daria Saville had live-tweeted throughout the match, and the Australian congratulated both finalists afterwards. She also noted a certain similarity between Sabalenka's pose when holding the trophy, and when holding Saville's sausage dog Tofu earlier in the fortnight.
Unbelievable ! So much respect to to the girls!! Congrats Aryna!!!!!!!! Calm tiger!!!— Daria Saville (@Daria_gav) January 28, 2023
Same same 🥰🥰🥰 pic.twitter.com/8twn0rrhvS— Daria Saville (@Daria_gav) January 28, 2023
Congratulations also came in from some of Sabalenka's beaten opponents in Melbourne: Magda Linette, whom she defeated in the semifinals, and Donna Vekic, whom she ousted in the quarterfinals.
Congrats @SabalenkaA! https://t.co/HWFhkGpxR3— Magda Linette (@MagdaLinette) January 28, 2023
👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 @SabalenkaA @AustralianOpen— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) January 28, 2023
WTA Legend Billie Jean King had presented Sabalenka with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup and wrote that she had been "honored" to do so.
Congratulations to Aryna Sabalenka on her first Grand Slam title!— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) January 28, 2023
It was a thrilling match and both Sabalenka and Rybakina played so well.
Honored to present Aryna with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. 🏆#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/l8WCXsmcfW
Congratulations also came from Sabalenka's sometime doubles partner Elise Mertens, with whom she won the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open, and fellow top tenners Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula.
Congratulations @SabalenkaA ! 🏆 Well deserved! So happy for you ❤️#AusOpen— Elise Mertens (@elise_mertens) January 28, 2023
Congrats @SabalenkaA !! Well deserved ❤️❤️— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) January 28, 2023
Think we knew she was due a slam soon, congrats @SabalenkaA !! https://t.co/HruLMgFZAH— Jessie Pegula (@JLPegula) January 28, 2023
Former players and commentators including Laura Robson, Teliana Pereira and Barbara Schett-Eagle also offered praise. Robson described the match as "a joy to watch," while Pereira wrote: "Aryna Sabalenka deserved that title so much! I loved the final, well played and at the end I almost died -- dramatic!"
Coach Judy Murray also described the final as "an amazing showcase for women's tennis."
Unreal match!!!! Wow that was a joy to watch— Laura Robson (@laurarobson5) January 28, 2023
What an amazing showcase for women’s tennis. @AustralianOpen final. A first Grand Slam title for @SabalenkaA 🇧🇾 pic.twitter.com/BrmD0p2VJq— judy murray (@JudyMurray) January 28, 2023
Aryna Sabalenka merecia demais esse título.— Teliana Pereira (@telianapereira) January 28, 2023
Eu adorei a final, bem jogada e no finalzinho quase morri do coração, dramática!
What a brilliant womens final it was today. Well done @SabalenkaA winning the @AustralianOpen 🏆 @eurosport @wbd pic.twitter.com/Faqf8nZIzs— Barbara Schett-Eagle (@Babsschett) January 28, 2023
Former World No.1s Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic and Tracy Austin also congratulated Sabalenka. Like Sabalenka, Clijsters' path to her first major was not simple -- the Belgian lost four Grand Slam finals before breaking through at the 2005 US Open, and going on to collect four major titles. Meanwhile, 2008 Roland Garros champion Ivanovic advised the newest member of the Grand Slam champion club: "Enjoy the moment."
She stepped it up most when she needed to . Congrats on the first one @SabalenkaA ! 🏆🇦🇺— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) January 28, 2023
Congratulations @SabalenkaA on winning the @AustralianOpen and your first ever Grand Slam! 👏🏼🏆— Ana Ivanovic (@anaivanovic) January 28, 2023
Enjoy the moment ☺️
Also congratulations to Elena #Rybakina on a great tournament👏🏼#AusOpen #AO2023 https://t.co/8z97nYTPFO
Congrats @SabalenkaA on @AustralianOpen title. That much sweeter after serving woes last year. Fought thru adversity-well deserved! @WTA 💪🏆— Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) January 28, 2023
Australian ATP great Rod Laver also offered his congratulations to the finalists, writing:
"Congratulations on winning your first major, Aryna Sabalenka. You fought hard all the way with great power and passion. Bad luck tonight, Elena Rybakina, your poise under pressure is a wonderful trait. A classic contest between two classy competitors."
Congratulations on winning your first major Aryna Sabalenka. You fought hard all the way with great power and passion. Bad luck tonight Elena Rybakina, your poise under pressure is a wonderful trait. A classic contest between two classy competitors.🚀— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) January 28, 2023
Official tournament accounts also paid tribute to Sabalenka, including some of her previous sites of victory such as Madrid and Linz. Meanwhile, the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation showed love to Rybakina.
C O N G R A T S! 🏆#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/3JoEZ7ECAe— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) January 28, 2023
Aryna Sabalenka - winner of the 𝓤𝓹𝓹𝓮𝓻 𝓐𝓾𝓼𝓽𝓻𝓲𝓪 𝓛𝓪𝓭𝓲𝓮𝓼 𝓛𝓲𝓷𝔃 2020 wins the @australianopen— WTA Linz (@WTALinz) January 28, 2023
Congratulations @sabalenkaa 🎾🎉 pic.twitter.com/9BlhLeVx5w
🐠🇰🇿@AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/v7E490vR9G— Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (@ktf_kz) January 28, 2023