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Wimbledon 2022: Elena Rybakina creates history, becomes first player from Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam title

Elena Rybakina

Bengaluru, July 9: Elena Rybakina created history by beating Ons Jabuer 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to clinch her maiden Grand Slam title in the Wimbledon 2022 title clash match between two first time finalists at the Centre Court on Saturday.

Rybakina, seeded 17, had many firsts to her credit including being the first player from Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam and at the age of 23, becomes the youngest female player to win the title in Wimbledon since Petra Kvitova in 2011.

It was her third career title, and first since Hobart 2020; in between, Rybakina had lost four straight finals, as well as last year's bronze medal play-off at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

After sealing her first championship point with a service winner, the famously composed Rybakina was calm in victory, celebrating with the barest of fistpumps after the final at SW19, which lasted an hour and 48 minutes.

Ons Jabeur

Jabeur, who was seedeed third, also leaves Wimbledon after making history. She has spent much of her career as a trailblazer for her country and region, and is the first Tunisian and Arab woman ever to reach a Grand Slam final.

Jabeur's best shot at hitting back arrived in the sixth game, where three break points came and went, and with that Rybakina claimed the next two games for a famous victory at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

In a groundbreaking contest on Centre Court between two females contesting their maiden major finals - an Open Era first - it was Rybakina who held her nerve.

She prevailed against the in-form Jabeur, who had won 11 matches in a row, to win just her third career title - and a first since 2020.

The Kazakh player, who had lost her past four finals made a terrific comeback to stamp her authority at the Centre Court on Saturday.

Comeback win

Despite passing up two break points in the fifth game, Jabeur looked composed and again broke her opponent in the ninth game to grab a huge foothold in the match.

Rybakina's 17 unforced errors in the opener suggested a gulf in quality, but she earned a first break in the opening game of the second set following a poor forehand from Jabeur.

Jabeur let a break point of her own pass her by in the next game as a growing-in-confidence Rybakina held, but the Tunisian dug deep to save a break point in the third.

That looked like being a big moment as, from 30-0 up, Rybakina gifted her opponent three break points, but Jabeur failed to take any of them - a running theme.

The Kazakh took three of the next four games to take the match all the way, and that momentum was carried into the decider as she won the opening game against serve.

Rybakina had won the first meeting against Jabeur (Wuhan 2019), but she lost the following two (Dubai 2021 and Chicago 2021 by retirement).

And on the big stage, it was Rybakina who hogged the limelight as the head-to-head record now stands 2-2.

At world No.23, Rybakina also became just the second-lowest ranked female player in the Open Era to win the title in Wimbledon after Venus Williams who was ranked 31 in 2007.

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Story first published: Saturday, July 9, 2022, 20:27 [IST]
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