Aryna Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title by beating Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the women’s final of the Australian Open on Saturday.

Sabalenka, 24, from Belarus, was playing her first Grand Slam final.

She improved to 11-0 in 2023, and the only set she lost all season was Saturday’s opener against Wimbledon champion Rybakina.

But Sabalenka turned things around with an aggressive style that resulted in 51 winners, 20 more than her opponent. He used 17 aces to overcome seven double faults. And he managed to break the big-serve Rybakina three times, most recently with a 4-3 lead in the third set that he never relinquished.

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Aryna Sabalenka wins her first Grand Slam title on day 13 of the Australian Open women's final at Melbourne Park, claiming the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after beating Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan on January 28, 2023.

Aryna Sabalenka wins her first Grand Slam title on day 13 of the Australian Open women’s final at Melbourne Park, claiming the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after beating Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan on January 28, 2023.
(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Sabalenka needed to work for the championship, double-faulting on her opening match point and requiring three more to close things out.

When Rybakina hit a long forehand to cap the final after nearly two and a half hours, Sabalenka lay on her back on the court and lay like that for a while, covering her face as her eyes filled with tears.

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Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reacts after scoring a point against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan during the women's singles final.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reacts after scoring a point against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan during the women’s singles final.
(WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Sabalenka is a powerhouse player whose brightest strength was also her most glaring flaw: her serve. Long capable of hitting aces, she also had a well-known problem with double faults, leading the tour in that category last year with nearly 400, including more than 20 apiece in some games.

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Elena Rybakina, left, and Aryna Sabalenka, pose for a photo before the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships.

Elena Rybakina, left, and Aryna Sabalenka, pose for a photo before the women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships.

After much urging from his team, he finally agreed to have his service mechanic checked last August. That, along with a commitment to trying to stay calm during the highest pressure moments, is really paying off now.

Sabalenka went 0-3 in the Grand Slam semifinals until eliminating Magda Linette in Melbourne. Now Sabalenka has done better and she will move up to No. 2 in the rankings.