Ice-cold Elena Rybakina became the first player from Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam title as she defeated Ons Jabeur with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 comeback in Saturday’s Wimbledon final.
The 23-year-old Moscow-born player who switched nationalities to Kazakhstan for tennis financial reasons in 2018 came up the winner in an historic final at the All England Club.
Rybakina was playing at Wimbledon for only the second time in her career; she remained emotionless throughout the final but managed half a smile in victory as she triumphed on her first match point after two hours..
The match was the first time since 1962 that both competitors at Wimbledon were first-time Grand Slam finalists.
The 23-year-old Rybakina was the youngest woman to finalist here since Garbiñe Muguruza, aged 21 in 2015; the Kazakh is the youngest champion since Petra Kvitova in 2011
Rybakina was never in the running as a Wimbledon possibility, saying she doubted she would make it into the second week..
The new champion maintained remarkable composure as she took victory, barely celebrating but moments later wiping away a stray tear before being presented with the trophy by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
“I was super nervous before the match and during it,” she said. “So I’m happy it’s over.”
Rybakina, who broke Jabeur four times and saved nine of 11 break points against her serve, added: “I’ve never felt something like this.
“Thanks to the crowd, the support was unbelievable.”
The winner called Tunisian Jabeur, first Arab and African woman to get this far at a major, “an inspiration for everybody.”
She added: “I ran so much today that I think I don’t have to do fitness (training). It was an honour to be here and play in front of the Royal Box; it was an unreal atmosphere.”
The title outsider had not fancied her chances despite reaching a Grand Slam best of a Roland Garros quarter-final last season.
“I didn’t expect to be in the second week. It’s amazing, I don’t have the words to say how happy I am.”
Rybakina was watched by the president of her federation and her sister, with her parents – like Jabeur’s – not in attendance.
Jabeur started out with a quick first set but was caught by a momentum shift as her opponent lifted and went on to dominate the final two sets.
“Elena stole my title but it’s ok,” the WTA No. 2 said. “I love this tournament.
“I feel really sad right now but there can be only one winner. are listening.
Jabeur ran away with the opening set, knocking it off 33 minutes. But the momentum shifted dramatically from the start of the second set.
The Tunisian was broken with an ace to start the second, with Rybakina reaching 3-1 as she claimed an eight-minute game and saved three break points.
A double break led to a levelling of the sets as the Kazakh aces on the first of three set points, 6-2.
Rybina got away in the third with another early break, won five points in a row for a 4-2 margin and polished off victory after breaking for 5-2 and profiting a game later as Jabeur sent a return long on match point.