How Aryna Sabalenka Dominated Grand Slams In 2023

How Aryna Sabalenka Dominated Grand Slams In 2023

by Nurein Ahmed

Aryna Sabalenka may have relinquished the No. 1 ranking after just eight weeks, but there is one chart in which she outscored the rest of the tour.

It is easy to forget that Sabalenka led Swiatek in the WTA race in 43 of 44 weeks this season, but we cannot deny she was the WTA's big-stage player in 2023. And there is no bigger battleground than the Grand Slams.

For many years, the Belarusian was treading dangerously on the path of underachievers, having come tantalizingly close to breaking her Grand Slam duck but stumbled when a couple of steps was all she needed.

With renewed vigor and unwavering confidence, Sabalenka was determined to change her track record in Grand Slams. And it all started from the first ball she struck in the Australian summer series.

Sabalenka won the WTA 500 in Adelaide, a result that gave her the platform to go on record in Melbourne. A stunning display of measured power and unnerving composure in the final brought her a first major title at the Australian Open and chalked 2000 points.

She was a top performer during the clay swing, winning a WTA 1000 title in Madrid, and went on to headline the Roland Garros semifinal. Sabalenka stood within a point of the final but was denied by Karolina Muchova who staged a miraculous comeback.

It wasn't quite the result she wanted, but by the time she was heading to Wimbledon, the word was that Sabalenka was no longer vulnerable in Grand Slam territory. Even she declared that the tough losses have only served to "understand" herself better.

She was not wrong. At SW19, she was near immaculate, winning all but one of her five matches en route to the semifinal in straight sets. But she met her match there as the wizardry of Ons Jabeur unsettled Sabalenka.

Again, this was a match firmly on her racket until the Tunisian pulled off an extraordinary comeback from the dead. Sabalenka addressed that semifinal blip at the US Open, when she authored her own come-from-behind victory beating Madison Keys by the bizarre scoreline of 0-6, 7-6, 7-6.

Although her season and her Grand Slam record in 2023 did not have a storybook ending, she outperformed every single player at the highest level and by some margin. She compiled 4,860 points in the Slams this year, nearly 2000 more than second-placed Iga Swiatek.

To highlight Sabalenka's dominance, you could add up points recorded of two players in the Top 5 like Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina (3,220 combined points) and they wouldn't come close.

She was the only woman who reached at least two Grand Slam finals in 2023, and the only WTA player who made the semifinal or better at all four majors during the season.


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