ATP / WTA: Rybakina storms to Brisbane title

It was a trophy laden weekend as the world's very best gear up for the Australian Open.

Aryna Sabalenka Elena Rybakina©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The opening week of the 2024 season was nothing short of spectacular.

There were trophy lifts from Australia, to New Zealand and across to Hong Kong as the women's top four dazzled and plenty of players sent out a signal of intent ahead of flying to Melbourne.

Here are the key headlines you may have missed…

Flawless Rybakina rules rematch

Over to the Brisbane International, Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka's simmering rivalry took another twist.

In a repeat of the 2023 Australian Open final, world No.3 Rybakina dismantled world No.2 Sabalenka 6-0, 6-3 with her graceful power play.

"Despite the score, it's always tough to play against you," Rybakina told Sabalenka on court, after the Kazakh lifted a sixth title and without dropping a set across the five matches.

"We always push each other and I think that's great. We improve this way, so hopefully we continue."

Awesome in Auckland

Coco Gauff started her campaign off by going back to back in New Zealand. 

The US Open champion defended her Auckland Open title with a riveting 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 comeback over No.2 seed Elina Svitolina.

In doing so, the 19-year-old improves her career finals record to 7-1 and since Wimbledon, moving onto hard courts, Gauff has compiled an astonishing 29-4 win-loss ratio.

"I don’t know if I was expecting this result, but I’m really happy with how I managed to play today," said Gauff. "I think today level-wise was definitely not my best match or best level this week, but sometimes when you win when you’re not playing your best, it makes you feel more satisfied."

2240 days in the making

Rewind to 2017 and Grigor Dimitrov began his season as the Brisbane International champion, before compiling a career-best campaign, including ATP Finals glory in November.

Back in Brisbane the Bulgarian ended a title drought spanning just over six years with a pulsating 7-6(5), 6-4 scoreline over Holger Rune. 

“It’s been a while since I held one of these, it’s a bit emotional,” said Dimitrov, holding back the tears, before addressing the crowd. "My love affair started here many years ago in Brisbane and it continues. I’m very thankful to lift the trophy again.”

22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal brought joy to the tennis world with his first tournament in 12 months, posting encouraging victories over Dominic Thiem and Jason Kubler.

Unfortunately, the Spaniard suffered a "micro tear" to his upper left leg during his 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-4 quarter-final defeat by Jordan Thompson.

As a pre-caution, the 37-year-old has pulled out of the Australian Open later this month, heading home for treatment.

Ruthless Rublev rules

Andrey Rublev served up his 15th career title at the Hong Kong Open.

The world No.5 edged close friend Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-4 to back up three set triumphs over Arthur Fils and teenage sensation Shang Juncheng.

"It's a great feeling to start my season with a title," said the 26-year-old.

"We finished the final at such a high level. I'll go to Melbourne with much more confidence and I'll be in a much better mood for the week of practice, preparing my best for the Australian Open."

Germany storm back in Sydney

Down Under was host of significant moments from the United Cup.

Alex de Minaur cracks the Top 10 on Monday following standout wins over world No.1 Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev. The 24-year-old is the first Australian man to do so since his mentor Lleyton Hewitt back in 2006. Keep tabs on the 'Demon' at the Australian Open, that’s for sure.

The hosts performed admirably, however, it was Poland and Germany who reached the final.

Iga Swiatek was imperious all tournament to finish 5-0 in singles. On Sunday the world No.1 give her nation the advantage with a polished 6-3, 6-0 dismissal of Angelique Kerber (who seamlessly transitioned back to elite tennis despite an 18 month absence on maternity).

Next up, Zverev saved two match points in a thriller to reel in Hubert Hurkacz 6-7(3), 7-6(6), 6-4 and force the mixed doubles decider.

The standard was off the charts as Zverev and Laura Siegemund prevailed 6-4, 5-7, 10-4 to take the glory.