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May 5, 2021

Aryna Sabalenka

Madrid, Spain

Press Conference


6-1, 4-0 [Ret.]

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Happy Birthday. I know it's a little awkward to advance by retirement and especially against a good friend of yours in Elise. Before she had to bow out, you were playing at a really high level tonight. Can you share your thoughts on the match during the time that it took place?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, like on the beginning it was really tough to play against her, because she was using like high balls and mixing it with slice and then try to stay aggressive, so trying to kind of understand what she's doing. As soon as I understand what she's trying to do, I was kind of like stepping into the court and try to be, like, a little bit more aggressive and like going through the ball and tried to hit heavy shots.

Yeah, I think after first few games I would say I kind of destroy her a little bit, and she was overtrying sometimes and she start to miss a lot, and then something happened with her leg. I feel really sorry for this, and I hope that she will get better soon. Hopefully she will be ready for the next one for Rome.

Yeah, but anyway, I'm happy with the level in the beginning of the match, because then it was kind of tricky, because she couldn't move and I was just hitting, just tried to put the ball in and I saw that she can't move, and I'm really happy that I kind of destroy her in the first set.

Q. This is your second deep run on clay in a row, first Stuttgart and now Madrid. Are you overall pretty pleased with how you're playing on clay and the direction of your game?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I'm really happy with the level on the clay court, and I'm really happy that I kind of don't feel it anymore that I cannot play on the clay court and I start to really like it.

Yeah, I'm really enjoying my time on the court (smiling). Yeah, I'm really pleased with the level here, especially in Madrid.

Q. What do you think is clicking so well for you this week? Seems like you're seeing the ball so well and moving really well. What do you think has been key?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know. I worked so hard to play on this level, and I'm really happy that the work we did before the clay court season, it's really working well.

Yeah, I'm just doing what we worked on. Yeah, it works (smiling).

Q. Do you feel like you have kind of shifted into a new gear, that you found a new level in your game the last few weeks?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know. I hope so. I'm just doing everything I can to stay on this level and to keep improving and to keep moving forward. So, yeah, hopefully this is kind of the next step (smiling).

Q. Looking ahead, looking at facing Anastasia, she had some very nice things to say about you earlier about how hard she sees you're constantly working and that she has been very impressed with that and respects that a lot. What do you make of her as a young Russian talent? She's been around for quite a bit at this point, but another talented ball striker. What will it be like to face her?

ARYNA SABALENKA: It's going to be another challenge and she's a great player. She's also working really hard. I can say the same about her. She's also working really hard, so I can see also consistently that she's working there.

She's aggressive. She's hitting really hard and a big serve. It's not easy to play against her. I'm really looking forward for this match. It's really interesting to face her, especially like when she's in good form and she's playing her best, I would say.

Yeah, that will be really interesting to play.

Q. If you look back at just your last losses, so you lost back to back to Barty, lost to Muguruza twice, they are two of the best players of the season if not "the" best. Does that at all make you frustrated or does it give you confidence to know that it takes a pretty remarkable player or level to stop you right now?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, it's a good question, but what I want to say is, like, when I lost them twice, yeah, I was really first like really angry and crazy about it, but these losses give me kind of power, and it motivates me to work even harder and to kind of from that matches I can see what I have to work on, which is good. Yeah, I just keep working and I keep improving myself, make sure that the next matches I will win (smiling).

Q. You have obviously won big titles before, and this is a semifinal of a 1000. Does this sort of result and the week that you have had in Madrid, does it no longer impress you? In other words, do you expect this from yourself? Do you feel like, Yeah, this is what I do? Or do you have some sort of emotional reaction to making a semifinal?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know. I don't really think. I'm just thinking like match by match kind of, like step by step.

I'm just playing my matches, focusing on my game, focusing on the things which I have to do in each match and not really thinking about the results. But for sure this is, I would say, the best result on the clay court for me so far, and hopefully I will go longer.

Yeah, I'm really happy with this result, and it's kind of I can see that, as I said before, that the work I did, it's working really well and like I'm on the right way.

Q. I just wanted to find out from you your thoughts about being able to play in front of fans again and to interact with them after the match, especially like I noticed that you have been taking time to pose for selfies and just to, you know, talk with the fans. Has it helped you, having fan support there in Madrid?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, it's definitely helping me a lot, and I'm really enjoying this atmosphere on the courts. Yeah, like, they supported me really, I don't know why, I just really feel the support and I kind of, I don't know, feel even stronger on the court.

Yeah, I was surprised that it's fans here, like I'm really happy with this, and, yeah, hopefully one day everything will get back to normal life and we will see the full stadium of people supporting us. But this is amazing. I'm really happy to see them.

Q. Speaking of the atmosphere, I couldn't help but notice, and the television cameras picked up on it, you were sitting on your bench I think during the medical timeout, and the cameras caught you singing along to the songs playing...

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I like this one (singing). It's a good one. Every time I hear this song, I start to dance automatically and like singing it. It was kind of good, like, switch off on the match. Right, it's help me to relax a little bit.

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