Aryna Sabalenka says that tennis is still tennis after winning a Grand Slam

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Aryna Sabalenka hasn’t got her head in the clouds after her maiden Grand Slam win and she is prepared to work hard for more success.

Sabalenka says that not much has changed since she won the Australian Open.

The professional tours are a relentless grind which emotionally and physically put players through the ringer and Sabalenka says that Grand Slam win doesn’t alter that fact.

At the pre-tournament press conference for the Dubai Tennis Championships, Sabalenka was asked what has changed since her triumph, and said: “Well, I don’t know. The world? I mean, it’s definitely changed something in my mind. But not much. I still have to work hard. I still have to prove every time on the court that I’m on the right place. Nothing changed much. It’s just really nice to achieve your goal. Yeah, but I still have to work, so nothing has changed much.”

Rather than feeling that she has arrived, Sabalenka says that her Grand Slam win makes her want to go on to claim more big titles.

She said: “It means a lot to me. I believed in myself, but I was waiting for so long, I was working so hard, I couldn’t get it. I had tough losses in the semifinals. Then when I won, it’s kind of, yeah, it means a lot. I was super happy. Now I have even more, how to say? Yeah, I want more. ‘Motivation’, this is the word. More motivation to work hard, just to feel it again,” she added.

Sabalenka worked hard on her serve to correct an issue with her technique that rendered her service game erratic.

She believes she can make more gains by focusing on improving her game all the time.

“I would like to just focus on myself because I think the only thing why I won Australian Open is because I was focusing on myself,” Sabalenka said.

“I didn’t really think about all the expectations, all the things happening around, like ‘this is Grand Slam’, all this stuff.”

“I was just focusing on myself. I just kept telling myself that I have to bring my level on the court, I have a lot of chances to win the match. So, yeah, I’ll just try focus on myself,” she said.

Sabalenka returns to the WTA Tour for the first time since her Australian Open title win in the Round of 32 in Dubai, having been granted the second seeding and a first round bye.

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