The tale you are about to read is a work of historical fiction—an imaginative novel that significantly incorporates real characters and events. Aryna Sabalenka, who won the women’s singles title at the 2023 Australian Open, is the main character. Sabalenka is ready to enter a zone of a completely different character after having just spent a fortnight in the zone for which competitors live. The Wizards of Oz: A Tennis Twilight Zone, perhaps.
On this sunny summer day, it was 8:30 a.m. Aryna Sabalenka thought back on what had just happened as she sat in her hotel room in Melbourne. It had been a wonderful night, with Sabalenka defeating Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Australian Open finals. The raising of the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup has been amazing. Check out: Who is Novak Djokovic Coach? Know all about Goran Ivanisevic
A Cheaky Start
First serve went to Sabalenka, who promptly committed a double fault. The crowd chuckled nervously, and the 24-year-old was grinning wryly. Sabalenka’s vulnerability on serve has always been puzzling given her tremendous skill from the baseline and a game built around powerful groundstrokes that are clean and accurate. She had participated in a tune-up competition in Adelaide at the time, where she struck an astounding 21 double faults in one match.
She completely rewrote that shot this year, working with a biomechanist to improve her mobility and toss. She played much more fluently and confidently after that, as shown by the ace she hit right away. The second event happened in the second set’s fourth game. Up until that moment in the match, Aryna Sabalenka had been playing second-best. But she broke serve and made a breakthrough before quickly falling behind herself. Sabalenka has a reputation for being equally volatile and flammable as well as powerful and talented. And in the past, that was the precise type of high-pressure situation when the Belarusian would have cracked. Also Read: Comparing The Big Three: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic
Sabalenka Struggled For Points Throughout The Year
Despite being the defending Wimbledon champion, Rybakina had cut a broken figure throughout the latter part of last year. Her ability to move up the rankings was hindered by the tours’ decision to deprive Wimbledon of ranking points. As a result, she was forced to play on outside courts and endure brutal draws this fortnight. She did so in top form, going without dropping a set and defeating three former Major champions.
By the seventh game of the decisive set, Sabalenka had discovered her range and was able to assert herself on her rival, who was keeping the match alive with a powerful serve. After copying her rival’s strategy of exploiting second serves through deep returns and skilled court positioning, Sabalenka ultimately made a breakthrough.
Another shock was in store as she positioned herself on the baseline to serve for the match in an exciting finale. At championship point, Sabalenka made a double fault that brought the score to deuce in an almost poetic way. This time, her nerves prevented her from smiling, and she had to dig deep to avoid two break points in order to win the match.
She won her maiden Grand Slam championship thanks to her increased serve and work rate, as well as the balance she was able to achieve by making her all-out attack playing style more durable. There may be many more to come if she continues in this manner.
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