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Blinkova Stuns Rybakina in Longest Slam Tiebreaker Ending AO Thriller

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 18: Anna Blinkova (L) embraces Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan after winning her round two singles match during the 2024 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 18, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Rod Laver Arena was rocking and Anna Blinkova was shaking.

Repeatedly exhorting herself to “go for it”, Blinka showed pure guts creating seismic shock on a wild and crazy Australian Open night.

A brave Blinkova saved six match points in the breaker before converting her 10th match point stunning third-seeded Elena Rybakina 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(20) in an epic and exhilarating Australian Open second-round upset climaxing with the longest singles tiebreaker in Grand Slam history.

The 57th-ranked Blinkova scored the second Top 5 win of her career and biggest triumph of her life exhibiting eternal resolve to rise in what she called an “endless tiebreaker.”

“This day I will remember for the rest of my life, especially on this court and this crowd,” a beaming Blinkova told Laura Robson in her on-court interview. “I will never forget it.

“It’s the best day of my life.”

It came about seven months after Blinkova beat former WTA Finals champion and No. 5 Caroline Garcia  at the 2023 Roland Garros.

Overcoming Garcia and French fans in Paris last spring, Blinkova rode a wave of energy erupting from appreciative Aussie fans tonight. 

“When I played at the French Open against Caroline, the crowd was mostly against me, obviously,” Blinkova said. “Today they were cheering me up so much. They were incredible.

“I loved it. I loved it. My dream came true to play on Rod Laver, full of spectators. The energy was crazy. I enjoyed it a lot.”

Both women showed warrior spirit and true sportsmanship throughout with Rybakina twice breaking back in the final set when Blinkova served for the match. 

Crowd cheers echoing in their ears, both women made stirring stands throughout a dizzying, dramatic and deeply jittery final set.

The 2023 AO finalist Rybakina repelled match points when Blinkova served for the third round. Rybakina rose up again saving match points in a tremendous and tense 31-minute tiebreaker.

Facing one of the game’s most fearsome servers, Blinkova didn’t blink even after seeing match point after match point slip from her grip.

“First of all, thank you so much to the crowd for cheering for me and encouraging me, it gave me so much energy to fight to the end,” Blinkova told Laura Robson afterward. “It was super tough. I just tried to stay focused on every point.

“I had so many match points and I tried to be aggressive at these moments, but my hand was shaking and my legs too. And I tried to be calm as hard as I could and I’m super happy to win in the end.”

This 42-point match tiebreaker broke the 38-point tiebreaker played in the Wimbledon third round last summer when 60th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko edged Ana Bogdan 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(18).

Tonight’s tiebreaker turned heartbreaker for former Wimbledon champion Rybakina and dream maker for Blinkova, who refused to lose.

“I was telling myself to go for it,” Blinkova said. “I was also telling myself to stay solid, solid, solid and keep putting the ball in the court, in the court, in the court and finally it worked out.”