In what position of the WTA ranking does Aryna Sabalenka stand after winning the 2023 Australian Open?
The 2023 Australian Open gave us a thrilling finish with Rybakina and Sabalenka slugging it out to the bitter end in the Women’s Final.
The drama was all set even before the final match as number five seed Aryna Sabalenka made it to her first Grand Slam final, facing off against the young 23-year-old Wimbledon Champion Elena Rybakina.
With Sabalenka only 24-years-old herself, this Slam had lashings of tension built into it already. Would Rybakina join Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek to become the only players under the age of 25 to win multiple Grand Slam events? Or would Sabalenka maintain her undefeated start to the season to pick up her first Grand Slam win?
Rybakina came out guns blazing and steamed through to take the first set 6-4. Sabalenka was thoroughly outplayed in the first set but was only wobbled momentarily, pulling out to a steady 6-3 comeback in the second set.
In the third set, Rybakina came storming back, looking angry that she had allowed control of the match to slip, and while her fist serve was fierce, she still had trouble landing the second serve. Muscling her way to a level contest at three games apiece, she twice broke Sabalenka’s serve.
A long, sweeping forehand let Sabalenka pull her way back into the fight and she pulled ahead steadily to the win. Not that Rybakina made it easy for her though. Every point was hotly contested, with advantage slipping this way, then that several times over. But in the end, Sabalenka was just too much to handle and came away with her first Grand Slam title.
WTA World Rankings
Coming into this final, Rybkina was ranked 25 in the world, but had shown momentary sparks of genius. Steaming through the grass-court season in 2022, she took Wimbledon by storm and in the opening rounds here in Melbourne, she toppled the world number one, Iga Swiatek.
While Rybakina can play with the big names, her play seems too erratic, too uneven to be a consistent top-ten player. Catch her on the right day and she is unbeatable. But a solid opposition can make her look positively pedestrian.
Sabalenka is a completely different proposition, showing a steady, strong serve and good baseline coverage throughout every game. Heading into this competition as the world number five, there was only one way that things could go, no matter what the outcome.
A win here sees Aryna Sabalenka jump to number two in the world, on 5400 points, leapfrogging Caroline Garcia, Jessica Pegula, and Ons Jabeur, and matching her career high world ranking.
Elena Rybakina, by reaching the final, has flown up the rankings to number ten, a new career high for her, sitting on 2815 points.
The hardcourt season is just getting started, and time will tell if these two great young players can hold their rankings throughout and into the clay season. Once grass court comes around, Rybakina will be in her element. This is definitely not the last battle between these two talented ladies.
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