In much of the sporting world, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been barred from competing since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but tennis is an exception.
This summer's Wimbledon is the only one of the four grand slam tournaments where they are not allowed to play.
But in the Australian Open, the Russian and Belarusian participants have not only been there, but also reaped great success.
Karen Chatjanov reached the semifinals in the men's tournament and two women's players from Belarus were in the semifinals, in addition to Sabalenka also Victoria Azarenka.
Opponent Rybakina was playing her second grand slam final and took an early 3–1 lead in the first set.
An advantage she did not let go.
The 22nd-ranked Kazakh served out the first set cleanly through brilliant play.
In the second, however, the Russian Sabalenka managed to calm down her game and in turn went away early and made sure to force a directly decisive third set.
The set numbers were written as 4–6, 6–3, 6–4.
At 3–3 in the final set, Sabalenka managed to break Rybakina's serve and went on to win the match.
In doing so, she became the first Belarusian tennis player to win a grand slam in singles since Azarenka won the Australian Open in 2013. Sabalenka herself has two titles in doubles previously (Australian Open 2021 and US Open 2019).