Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka wins against Moscow-born Elena Rybakina, who represented Kazakhstan.
Aryna Sabalenka has won her first Grand Slam singles title by winning the Australian Open, battling back from a set down to defeat Elena Rybakina.
The hard-hitting Belarusian collapsed to the court in tears after winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 against the Wimbledon champion in a 2hr 28min arm-wrestle on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Sabalenka wiped away tears before getting a warm hug from Moscow-born Rybakina, who played a full part in a thrilling match between two of the most powerful hitters in the women's game.
Sabalenka, the fifth seed, then ran to her player's box to celebrate with her team.
"Thank you, my team, the craziest team on the tour. We've been through a lot of, I would say, downs last year," Sabalenka said, addressing her team after receiving the trophy.
"Thank you so much for what you are doing for me. I love you guys."
She added: "I want to congratulate Elena for an incredible two weeks. You're such a great player, and of course, we are going to have many more battles, hopefully in the finals of the Grand Slams."
It was a fitting finale to two weeks of drama at Melbourne Park, highlighted by brutal groundstrokes, precision serving and wonderful rallies from two players at the top of their game.
READ MORE: Sabalenka overpowers Linette to set up Australian Open final with Rybakina
Nerve-shredding tennis match
Rybakina cruised through the first set in 34 minutes, but Sabalenka scrapped her way back in a 57-minute second set to take it to a nervy decider.
It was then a case of which of the big servers would blink first in a toe-to-toe battle.
At 3-3 Rybakina –– who represents Kazakhstan –– could not find enough first serves and though she saved two break points, a third was too much and Sabalenka had the finish line in sight.
An ace took her to 5-3 and Rybakina held to force Sabalenka to test her nerves and serve for the championship.
She was up to the challenge, but needed four nerve-shredding match points after a display where she hit an astonishing 51 winners and 17 aces to edge past the big-serving Rybakina.
Sabalenka will now rise to second in the world, equalling her career high.
Rybakina will have the consolation of breaking into the top 10 for the first time, after reaching her second Grand Slam final in seven months.
She was awarded no ranking points for her Wimbledon win because of the ban on Russian and Belarusian players there.
READ MORE: Novak Djokovic defeats De Minaur to reach Australian Open quarter-finals