Elena Rybakina handed Aryna Sabalenka a reality check on Sunday ahead of her Australian Open title defence with a crushing 6-0, 6-3 victory in the final of the Brisbane International, a rematch of last year’s Melbourne summit clash.
World No. 2 and top seed Sabalenka came into the contest on a 15-match winning streak in Australia but was outplayed by the former Wimbledon champion on Pat Rafter Arena.
Rybakina wrapped up the first set in 24 minutes on the back of three breaks of serve as Sabalenka, shaking her head at herself in disbelief, sprayed 12 unforced errors across the Queensland Tennis Centre showcourt.
The Kazakh broke Sabalenka again to start the second set and, although there was more fight from the other side of the net, sealed her sixth career title when the Belarussian crashed another forehand wide.
“I want to congratulate Aryna on a great week and a great season last year and hopefully we will meet again in Melbourne,” the Moscow-born world No. 4 said in the on-court presentation ceremony.
“Despite the score, it’s always tough to play you. We push each other, which is great, and we improve in this way so I hope that continues.”
The pair split their four meetings last year with two wins apiece, although Sabalenka won the match that mattered most to claim her first Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park.
“Honestly, I don’t know where to start,” said a laughing Sabalenka. “Elena, wow, I don’t know where to start. Thank you for those three games, at least we made it look like a fight.
“Couple of words to my team, you did a bad job today. 6-0 6-3, that’s all your fault guys… Hopefully we’ll be better at the Australia Open.”
The Australian Open begins next Sunday and runs till January 28.