Elena Rybakina falls short of emulating Ash Barty feat at Australian Open

The 23-year-old Wimbledon champion lost in the Australian Open final to Aryna Sabalenka.

Elena Rybakina (pictured right) after a match and (pictured left  Ash Barty holding the Australian Open trophy.
Elena Rybakina (pictured right) wants to match Ash Barty's (picture left) feat and hold both the Wimbledon and Australian Open trophies. (Getty Images)

Elena Rybakina has fallen short of matching one of Ash Barty's more remarkable feats after losing in the Australian Open final against Aryna Sabalenka. The Kazakh star coughed up a one-set lead in Saturday night's final, going down 6-4 3-6 4-6.

Rybakina had been looking to emulate Aussie champion Barty in winning Wimbledon and the Australian Open in succession. Barty achieved the feat in 2021 and 2022 before announcing her shock retirement from the sport.

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Rybakina became one of tennis' biggest names after winning her maiden grand slam triumph at Wimbledon last year. Victory in Saturday night's final would have put her in rare air, however it wasn't to be.

Rybakina didn't earn any ranking points from her Wimbledon triumph and has languished outside the world's top 10 as a result. The 23-year-old entered the Australian Open ranked World No.25, but has shown she is one of the most in-form players on the WTA tour having defeated big names such as Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Ostapenko and World No.1 Iga Swiatek at Melbourne Park.

The soft-spoken star from Kazakhstan said she was entering the Australian Open final with more experience under the spotlight. "Everything was new at Wimbledon. Now I more or less understand what to expect," the Russian-born Kazakh said.

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While Rybakina has grown on the Australian public throughout her run, her coach earlier claimed her success is down to a hard pre-season. Stefano Vukov earlier predicted her experience in a grand slam final would be a "big factor" that would give her an edge against first-time major semi-finalist Sabalenka.

"Once you go through the rollercoaster ride once, you know what to expect, more or less, emotionally," Vukov said. "For the team and for the player, definitely."

Rybakina's mentor couldn't really split his player and Sabalenka, believing serving would likely be the key. "Aryna is extremely powerful player, great forehand. Can have a great serving day. Can have a bad serving day, something we will try to capitalise on," Vukov said.

Elena Rybakina (pictured) interviewed on Rod Laver Arena.
Elena Rybakina (pictured) will take on Aryna Sabalenka in the women's final at the Australian Open. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

"Elena is a good rhythm player, so she can feed off the pace of Aryna also. I think on the backhand side we are a little bit stronger.

"But as a match-up, I mean, it's going to be a lot of mistakes, a lot of winners. I'm sure about that, from both sides, because there is going to be a lot of pressure. I think who serves well goes through. That's my feeling."

Unfortunately for Rybakina and Vukov it wasn't to be, with Sabalenka capturing her maiden grand slam singles title. The Belarusian player finishes the Australian summer unbeaten in 11 matches after also winning the Adelaide International earlier this month. She dropped just one set along the way.

with AAP

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