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February 27, 2020

Aryna Sabalenka

Doha, Qatar

A. SABALENKA/Zheng Saisai

3-6, 7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Another match that was probably a very big test on your focus and just your mental game. Can you talk through how you were able to come back and get that win?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Honestly I don't know, I was just trying to push myself to fight for each point. And she was playing really well, moving really good and it was so many balls coming back on my side and I was just trying to go for it, like go through everything, especially with conditions here.

And I'm just happy that I could handle this pressure and could find the way how to win this match in these conditions.

Q. Do you think it helped having played her in San Jose last year? When I talked to you yesterday you seemed very aware of her game and how difficult she can be as an opponent to hit through. So how much did that match help you today to just maybe keep your patience a little better?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, that's true because before that final I didn't really expect this level from her. I knew that she is going to run well and she's going to put a lot of balls back, but I didn't expect that level and the balls will be that uncomfortable.

Today before the match I knew it's going to be long rallies and it's going to be really tough and I just need to push myself through everything and just try to stay focused and calm. I'm not sure that I was calm today, but I was trying to be focused (laughing), so, yeah, it's helped me a lot.

Q. And what does it mean for you to make the semi-finals here in Doha, very big tournament, a very good result so far and, yeah, what does the result itself mean to you and where you're game is at?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, it means a lot and especially like for the first time I'm in Qatar and make the semi-final it's really good.

But I'm looking forward and I'm trying to go as far as I can and, yeah, I mean for sure it means a lot.

And my tennis is, I'm just trying to bring everything I have every match and just hoping that the next day will be better than the day today.

Q. So just having working now again with Dmitry starting last week and now here, what have been the general, not specifically, but the general conversation points between the two of you about kind of finding your game and getting yourself back playing the type of tennis that you want to play?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, we spoke a lot about my tennis and the most important thing is that don't really need to hit every ball as hard as I can. Just sometimes I just need to stay in the rallies and be patient and like don't try over hit because like plus minus like 15 kilometers per hour it doesn't make any sense and that I don't need to spend that much energy on each shot.

So, yeah, and of course we are trying to work on consistency, consistency in my game. So it's a lot of things to improve and well, we'll just keep working and keep finding things to improve.

Q. Maria Sharapova announced her retirement yesterday and you were the last player to face her in a final in Tianjin. What were your memories of that final and what are your memories of Maria as a competitor?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well she's a big fighter and she is pushing herself through everything and like believing in herself, doesn't matter what people says.

And, I mean, she's a nice person, good player. I mean it's, for sure it's career to remember and I think WTA will miss her and I'm just wishing her good luck in the next chapter of her life.

Q. Just looking ahead and you're going to play Svetlana next. Can you talk about the matchup that she presents, especially as she's played quite well, so a good Sveta is, can be a tough puzzle to solve.
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yes, for sure it's another great player and she's playing really well right now. She's moving well, like nice tactic on each game and for sure she's bringing everything she have right now.

And tomorrow for sure she will fight for like every point and it's not going to be the easy one for me and I'll just need again to push myself and like one more time try to be calm and respect her.

But this time I'm expecting like a really great level from her and I'm looking forward for that semi-final.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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