Aus Open champ Aryna Sabalaneka tears up about ‘craziest team on tour’

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Aryna Sabalenka struggled to contain her emotions when paying credit to her coaching staff after winning the Australian Open title, calling them the “craziest team on tour”. The Belarus tennis star went through a challenging 2022 season, which included being one of many stars unable to play at Wimbledon due to the ban in place.

She had to completely overhaul her serving technique having been forced to use an underarm technique after being unable to hit a serve in play. There was immediate progress in her game as she made it through to the semi-finals of the US Open as well as finishing runners-up in the WTA Finals.

It was all set up for the world No 5 to make a run at the Australian Open title, where she had previously failed to get past the fourth round. But nobody looked like stopping Sabalenka this time around until she faced off against reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

The 23-year-old looked on her way to clinching her second major in just a few months after taking the opening set. However, Sabalenka was able to refocus and soon levelled things up to force a tense deciding set.

There was little to separate the two power-hitters, but Sabalenka got the break of serve to put her in the ascendency. After missing her first three championship points, Sabalenka was able to make it count on the fourth before collapsing to the floor in tears.

Those emotions continued when she was handed the Daphne Akhurst trophy and she devoted the triumph to her team. “My team, the craziest team on tour I would say,” she said.

“We’ve been through a lot of downs I would say last year, we worked so hard and you guys deserve this trophy. It’s more about you than about me. Thank you for everything you do for me. I love you guys. Thank you.”

There was clearly a high level of respect between the players as well in what was their fourth meeting. All of their matches have gone to a third-set decider and Sabalenka is hopeful of more meetings with Rybakina in the future.

“I wanna congrat Elena for an incredible two weeks,” she added. “You’re such a great player and of course we’re gonna have many more battles hopefully in the finals of the Grand Slams.

“I wanna congrats to your team, you guys are amazing… You’ve done such a good job, congrats guys.”

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