Aryna Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title courtesy of a three-set victory over Elena Rybakina in an all-action Australian Open final at the Rod Laver Arena.
The 24-year-old overcame a difficult start and tricky second serves to prevail 4-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 28 minutes, denying Wimbledon champion Rybakina a second major title in the space of 12 months following a memorable back-and-forth battle.
Sabalenka won the toss and opted to serve first, but the Belarusian double-faulted on the very first point of the final, which would be a sign of things to come in the early exchanges.
Sabalenka recovered from that immediate blip to hold, but an aggressive and front-footed Rybakina earned the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead - witnessing Sabalenka send a forehand wide after another double fault.
The big-serving duo had 10 aces between them by the time the seventh game ended - five for the ever-vocal Sabalenka and another five for Rybakina - but a couple of errors for the latter allowed Sabalenka to break back for 4-4 with a strong backhand winner.
However, the world number five's risky second serves were not paying off, and she recorded her fifth double fault of the match to gift Rybakina another break before the Wimbledon champion held to love to clinch the opening set.
Sabalenka was forced to beat away two break points in the opening game of the second set as Rybakina maintained her advance, but the Kazakh soon began to falter, and she was broken in the fourth game after sending a forehand long.
The Belarusian came through a nervy service game - where she handed Rybakina a break point with yet another double fault - to hold for a 4-1 lead, but she wasted three brilliant opportunities to earn the double break in the next game.
Rybakina saved two set points on serve to hold for 3-5, but Sabalenka brought up a third with an ace and proceeded to send a cracking second serve down the T to level the match.
After six successive holds in the third set, Sabalenka finally earned the crucial break at the fourth attempt - connecting well with an overhead smash before moving one game away from glory.
The 24-year-old would squander as many as three Championship points - the first of which got away from her on a double fault - but Rybakina sent one final forehand long before Sabalenka dropped to the ground in tears as a Grand Slam champion.No Data Analysis info