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February 12, 2021

Aryna Sabalenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Relatively comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win. Can you talk us through the match, please?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Actually, it wasn't really an easy match because she's moving really fast and playing a really quick game and the dead balls are coming from her and I would say it was really heavy balls, I would say.

Yeah, it wasn't easy, but I'm really happy that I could stay focused from the beginning to the end and I could get this win, yeah.

Q. You've got three matches under your belt this week in the Australian Open. Are you playing the best tennis of the tournament at this point of time? Do you feel that you've improved round by round?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I'm trying to improve round by round and, yeah, like I'm just trying to prepare myself really well before each match and I'm just trying to do everything I can each match and, yeah. I'm just trying to stay focused in the moment. I've been saying it since Abu Dhabi and I will keep saying it.

But what I feel is, yeah, maybe like I'm improving with every match and I hope it's going to go same improvement.

Q. Looking back to the tune-up tournament last week, do you think the best thing that could have happened to you was losing that match so that the pressure of a long winning streak was off you and now you started a brand new one?

ARYNA SABALENKA: It was good to lose that match, not because of the pressure but because of kind of put me back in the reality, you know, because I was like, I was trying to focus on the moment, but on that point I get like I was thinking like nobody can beat me (laughing). This is so stupid, but like this is how it is.

After the match I felt like, well, thank you, Kaia, that you bring me back into reality and now I can understand like, okay, it's still WTA Tour and everything that happens and so I'm back in that kind of mindset where I was focusing on that in the moment.

Q. I was trying to make out what you scribbled on the camera lens there after the match. I saw you were signing the camera and I couldn't quite make out what exactly you wrote.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, that was the guy who interviewed us on the court and there was a second question, because I answering the first question and people started clapping and I didn't hear the first part of the question, and he was, like, keep asking something and I was like, I already lost everything and I was like, What did he ask me? And I was like, kind of, Okay, I'm going to say whatever, just like whatever I have in my mind right now. But then I was trying to ask him, like, What did you ask me, because I didn't hear that question. But I couldn't really ask him, like I was thinking I'm going to sound really stupid and I was like, okay, I will act like I understand everything he asked me. So I was like...

Q. Have you chosen a different thing to write in the camera lens each of your three wins then? Are you writing something different each time?

ARYNA SABALENKA: You mean in the camera?

Q. Yeah. Right. When you sign the camera lens after you win, are you writing something different every time?

ARYNA SABALENKA: No. No. Every time the same signature.

Q. Looking ahead and you know that you can play Serena, what are your thoughts on playing her and, yeah, just what that challenge might be for you right now?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, it's a big challenge, but it's a tough one, but I'm going to do everything I can to prepare myself for that match, like mentally be ready to get this win, actually, because, yeah, she's huge and she's a great player, and it's always I think a big challenge to play against these kind of players. But I'm going to do everything I can to get this win and we're all here for the wins and I'm going to do everything.

Q. Do you remember the first time you remember seeing Serena play? When you watch her play, what do you think?

ARYNA SABALENKA: The first time was, I think, the final against Kerber and I think she lost that final. I was thinking like, wow, she's really powerful. And, yeah, and I think I said like, I want to hit even stronger than her (laughing). I don't know if it was, was it smart or no, but on that point I was thinking like, wow, she's really powerful. I want to be like powerful too, and like I want to dominate on the tour the same like she do. And, yeah, there was, I was a kid (laughing).

Q. That was at the Australian Open though? That was the first time you remember seeing her?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I think so. I think so. Maybe. Maybe earlier, but this is what I remember. What year was it?

Q. 2016.

ARYNA SABALENKA: 2016? No, no, I think earlier maybe not against Kerber. Because I remember I was around 13 years old, so I was -- yeah, yeah, I think it's a different match. Maybe not Kerber. Yeah, whatever.

Q. Do you want to play Serena and have you thought about it in the past? I looked at the records, I don't think you've ever played her in a tournament.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I never played against her and I was trying to don't look in the draw, but some people tell me that I might play against her and I saw that and I was like, Okay I'll just leave it for now because I need to go through Li first. But I think it's a big challenge and I really want to, how to say, to thrill myself so, yeah.

Q. Sorry, you want to?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I want to get this thrill. Can I say like thrill? I said it right. So it's going to be a thrill. But, yeah. I'm going to do everything I can.

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