Brisbane tennis championship | Confident Rybakina demolishes Sabalenka to claim title

The Russian-born Kazakh won the first eight games in a row over the Australian Open champion in a repeat of the 2023 Melbourne Park final.

Published - January 07, 2024 02:56 pm IST - Brisbane

Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina holds the trophy following the women’s singles finals match against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane on January 7, 2024

Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina holds the trophy following the women’s singles finals match against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane on January 7, 2024 | Photo Credit: AFP

Elena Rybakina will head to the Australian Open full of confidence after demolishing world number two Aryna Sabalenka in the Brisbane International final on January 7.

The Russian-born Kazakh won the first eight games in a row on her way to a 6-0, 6-3 win in just 73 minutes over the Australian Open champion in a repeat of the 2023 Melbourne Park final.

It was the world number four’s sixth WTA title and comes a week before the first Grand Slam of the year.

“For sure it gives me confidence,” she said about her Australian Open prospects.

“But this week is just the beginning for all the players. I feel like maybe not everyone is in the best form yet.

“I’m playing well now, so hopefully, as I said, I continue.”

The 2022 Wimbledon winner was in irresistible form all week, spending only three hours and 40 minutes on court in her four matches.

The final was expected to be a different challenge -- the two players had met seven times previously with all but two of those matches going to three tough sets, including last year’s Australian Open final.

But Rybakina soon put those expectations to bed with a blistering start, racing through the first set in 24 minutes, only dropping three points on serve.

She outshone the Belarusian in all aspects, serving beautifully and hitting her groundstrokes with power and depth.

Rybakina admitted she was surprised at her form after being sick in the lead-up and unable to practise before the tournament because of rain.

“Also the first few days here it was really tough with the jet lag and everything,” she said.

“I’m just pleased with the way I started the tournament because I was not feeling the greatest physically after the illness and everything.”

Sabalenka also had an impressive run to the final, but she appeared out of sorts and made a host of unforced errors.

She finally got on the board when she surprisingly broke Rybakina’s serve at 0-2 in the second set, but dropped her next serve and there was no way back.

Sabalenka saw the humorous side during the presentations, laughingly blaming her own team for the loss.

“Congratulations to my team,” she said. “6-0, 6-3. That’s all your fault guys.

“Of course we should have finished this week differently but I think we showed some great tennis,” she added.

“Hopefully we’ll do better at the Australian Open.”

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