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February 14, 2021

Aryna Sabalenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

S. WILLIAMS/A. Sabalenka

6-4, 2-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously it was a very entertaining match today. Obviously unfortunate for the result, but you must be pretty proud with the level of play that you showed today?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, might have been some moments I'm really proud of the level I played today, but I'm not really happy how I finish first set and the third set. So there is still some things to work on, and I will take this lesson and move forward.

But, yeah, it was great battle. And, yeah, I wish I could finish it differently.

Q. So you did do really well to come back from -- she was up 4-1 in the third, you come back to go 4-4. What happened then? Was it something that Serena did or in your mind something that you didn't do? Was it physical, mental?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I would say that there was something what I didn't do, because I felt like after 4-All I won that incredible point and I felt like I have to put pressure on her, because she's kind of a little bit down. But, yeah, but my return game wasn't there on that point (smiling).

Yeah, and then she step in and, yeah, I was a little bit, like, back maybe. I should play more aggressive on her serve and also my serve, yeah.

But like in the first set -- I shouldn't say that. Whatever. Yeah.

Q. You surely watched her a lot. What was it like to share the court with her and see her game up close?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, she's just another player for me, and I was going there and, like, for another fight and for another win, but it didn't happen.

But, yeah, she's a great player, and she's big fighter and really powerful game she has. Yeah, I mean, it was really a great battle between us, and I hope that next time I can finish it differently. So, yeah.

And, yeah, I will work on it. I think there is lot of work to do.

Q. You turned pro when you were 14, correct?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, maybe I played, I got the wildcard in ITF 25K in Belarus, so, yeah, let's say 14. Yeah.

Q. So if I told you that Serena was also 14 when she turned pro.


Q. What is that like for you to see her at 39 still doing what you're doing?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, I respect her. The level she's playing right now, it's really good. Yeah, I mean, this is something unbelievable. She's doing really well.

I think not a lot of players can do that. And, yeah, she's good (smiling).

Q. At the end of the match you kind of gave your box a thumbs up. I don't know if that was a real thumbs up or a sarcastic thumbs up, but what did you mean by that?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know. I was just so upset, and I don't know. I don't remember, actually, what I was thinking in that moment.

But I was so angry and so disappointed, and I don't know. I was just, like -- I needed to, like, I don't know. I just needed. I don't know what the reason for, but it was crazy. I don't know (smiling).

Q. In terms of just how -- it sounds like you're quite disappointed in the result and things like that. Can you articulate why? What is the disappointment that you feel? Is it that you lost the match, that you lost to Serena, that you didn't perform the way that you wanted to? Why are you upset?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I would say, yeah, because I lost this match and I kind of felt like -- I don't know. I felt like I should win it and I felt I was doing really well, fighting really well. But the end of the third set, like, I lost two games in, I don't know, in few minutes, like really quick. This is what I'm really disappointed with.

I mean, I could lose this match maybe like 7-6 or whatever, but I have to serve better against these kind of players.

Yeah, I cannot just, like, come back after 1-4 and just lose two games like 40-15? Like, come on. What was the reason for, like, to coming back in this match? Like you could just give this win to her? Like, if you came back, then fight.

Like, you cannot -- like, okay, she took her serve. It's okay, like, this is what she usually do, this is nothing crazy with that. But then, like, take your serve, like you have to serve for you have to stay in the match.

I don't know. This is what I'm really disappointed with, and this is -- I would say that this is nothing to do with tennis. This is more like in my head, like, why would I miss like easy shots, like, I just serve and then I think I made, like, unforced errors like four points, like easy points for her. Why would I do this?

Yeah, this is nothing about tennis, I would say. This is what I really disappointed with, because -- I mean, I'm still young, but I thought that I have enough experience to handle all this pressure and all this, how to say, I would say all this pressure.

So, yeah, we'll see. But, yeah.

Q. You are still quite young, and experience does matter. What do you think is the experience that you take out of this, you know, these three, four matches, you know, at Melbourne? Because it seemed like you were handling the Grand Slam experience much better than you had in the past.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I will just keep going, keep working. Yeah.

I feel like I just need to learn that I don't need to think a lot about Grand Slams. Like, this is just another tournament and I just need to focus on my game and play like aggressive and don't care about win or lose. Just go there and just compete. And that's it.

I think I'm doing really better on the slams. Before it was really bad, and I couldn't handle all this pressure. But right now I don't feel any more this pressure from the Grand Slams.

I just feel, like, it's another tournament, just like, whatever. I will go there, compete and do everything I can, and we'll see.

Q. Maybe because I'm old and have seen a hundred matches where person was recovering, coming back from 4-1. When you reach the final, you know, tie, you're so happy that you relax a little bit and it's a mental thing. It happens to so many players. That is probably what happened to you. It will not happen maybe again.

ARYNA SABALENKA: No, no, I wouldn't say that, because when you play against these kind of players like Serena, there is no moment to relax. And you know that, and you cannot relax. So there wasn't about relax. It was just about, I don't know what it was about, like -- yeah, because I think she start serving better than she was before.

Yeah, because I didn't return, like I won first point, and then I couldn't return, like, I was missing. And there was like easy points for her. I can't say that I was relaxed there. I was there. Like, I know that everything happen and I know she will fight and she will not give me this win, like, easily.

I need to win it. And I wasn't relaxed there.

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