Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina produced a storming comeback to beat Ons Jabeur 3-6 6-2 6-2 and win her first-ever Wimbledon title in Saturday’s women’s singles final.
The big-serving Rybakina began the match confidently with an immediate hold and some sublime down-the-line returns on Jabeur’s serve, but there would be no breaks in either of the first two games.
The Tunisian brought up the first break point of the match in game three, and a long backhand from Rybakina handed Jabeur – who returned her 6ft opponent serve’s well in the opening exchanges – the early break.
A stunning cross-court backhand from Jabeur allowed her to consolidate the early break to hold for 3-1 as Rybakina netted, and the composed Tunisian was then presented with the opportunity for a double break, but a shanked forehand saw her pass up that chance.
Rybakina staved off another break point to hold but then produced a terrible miss from a straightforward volley right at the net, as Jabeur moved one game away from taking the first set.
A similarly poor close-range miss and double fault took Jabeur to 30-0 on Rybakina’a serve, and the 27-year-old would witness her counterpart make two further errors to give away the first set with a whimper.
Boasting better first and second-serve win rates and far fewer unforced errors – six compared to Rybakina’s 17 – the momentum was firmly in Jabeur’s favour heading into set two.
However, Rybakina’s wonderful forehand handed her a first break point of the second set, and a mishit forehand from Jabeur into the net would give the 23-year-old a 1-0 lead to blow the match wide open.
Rybakina was forced to save a break point with a mammoth ace, and Jabeur nonchalantly headed the ball away as she went 2-0 down in the second set and failed to break back soon after following a double fault from the 17th seed.
The double break went Rybakina’s way as Jabeur’s error count grew, and the 23-year-old took the first of three set points to her name with a thumping ace to force a decider.
Rybakina’s spectacular turnaround continued with the opening break in the third set, although Jabeur could have challenged an incorrectly called long return.
With the crowd behind her, Jabeur and her wide variety of shots brought up three break points in the sixth game, but Rybakina saved all three and held to inch ever closer to a historic SW19 title.
Those missed opportunities would prove costly for Jabeur, who was powerless against the Rybakina forehand and was broken once more to leave her opponent one service game away from the win.
A long forehand brought up match point for Rybakina, and an identical shot from Jabeur on the next point would hand the calm and collected world number 23 the Grand Slam title.
The men’s final follows tomorrow, with Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios butting heads for a chance at glory.