September 5, 2021
New York, New York, USA
A. SABALENKA/E. Mertens
THE MODERATOR: Could you give us your thoughts on today's match and now the second week of the US Open.
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, it's a tough match and I'm really happy that I found a way through this one, because some things didn't work well today for me, but I'm really happy that I could find a way to get this win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. First few matches with Elise were much closer. Seems like you have figured out how to best play her. Is that the case? What do you think has made the difference in your rivalry?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, the first two matches was really long time ago, and, like, I wasn't a top player. Yeah, on that period I was working a lot on few things.
So, yeah, with every match we played against each other, I was finding few things against her, which work well right now. Yeah, my coach watched a lot of her matches. Yeah, we kind of know what she's doing on the court, and that's helped me to actually find a way to win her.
Q. Your thoughts on making the quarterfinals here as opposed to making your first quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
ARYNA SABALENKA: Maybe, I don't want to say "expect this," because, I mean, you never know, but I'm just really happy to be in the quarterfinals here because I really like playing at the US Open, especially with the crowd and the atmosphere is really enjoyable here.
So, yeah, I'm really happy to be in the quarterfinals here at the US Open. Of course it's a little bit different, because at the Wimbledon, it was my first time in the quarterfinals, so it was kind of something new. It's still something new for me, because at the US Open it's the first time, but it's already second time, so the second time feels a little bit different, you know.
Q. On that point, does it feel a little bit more like it's business? Like round of 16 at Wimbledon you won and celebration was very big and it felt like you had broken through a wall, and it just felt like a very business-like march through these four matches.
ARYNA SABALENKA: I wouldn't say that, because on the first match I was really struggling. I worked so hard to be in the quarterfinals, so it wasn't like -- I understand what you mean, but it wasn't like easy run, you know, here.
So, yeah, worked so hard, and in each match it's could turn differently, and so I'm really happy with the consistency I'm showing right now in the Grand Slams, and hopefully I can go win one. You know what I mean (laughter).
Q. Looking ahead, obviously they are playing quite late tonight, but Krejcikova, Muguruza, two great players, you know that. Are they different challenges when you look at it? Are they similar? How do you see how that match looks?
ARYNA SABALENKA: I think the only thing which is similar in their games is against both it's long rallies, you know. Yeah, you have to work so hard to get each point.
So this is the only thing which is similar in their game, but both of them are different players, but they both are great. They already have Grand Slams, and that's tough challenge, but I'm really looking forward for this one.
Q. For so long we talk about the stress of being at a Grand Slam. How have these first few matches felt, and has it felt different than you have in the past?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I actually was a little bit afraid about my first match, because I didn't play well in Cincinnati, and it was like week and a half got between these tournaments.
So I practice a lot. When you're not playing like few weeks before the tournament, the first match is always tough one. Yeah, I was a little bit, like, worried about my first match.
Especially when you're facing someone you beat six times, and you're like a little bit waiting for that one which is not gonna go your way, so it was big challenge for me. But I'm really happy that I was able to go through first few matches, because they are always like tougher than other ones.
So, yeah, was tough. The beginning of the tournament was really tough for me (smiling).
Q. Just going into the second week then, does this now feel like you're locked into tournament mode? All of those question marks about your game and your level, have you put that aside and now it feels like a tournament? Or does it still feel like pressures that you're dealing with or demons?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, during the tournament, especially the Grand Slam, there is different challenges, like the first challenge is like to go through the first round because it's always tough. Then it's about to keep this consistency and to even kind of, like every match, you're building your game like getting ready for the harder matches in the tournament.
It's always a different challenge. Right now I'm facing another challenge playing against Grand Slam champions, doesn't matter who it's going to be, so it's another challenge, but I'm ready for it.
Q. It's been a very unique tournament in that it seems like every day seems like there are electric matches, whether on the men's or women's side. You're the highest-ranked player left. Can you block out all of that and just focus on you, or do you tap into the energy of what's happening in the draw, things like that?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Of course I know what's going on in the draw, and anyway, even if Barty lost but there is a lot of great players still in the draw, but, yeah, I'm really trying to focus on myself, because if I'm not going to be there, then it's no chance for me.
So that's why I'm trying to focus on, put focus on myself and, like, bring this level every match, on every match.
Q. Before the tournament, I think you talked about work with a psychologist, and you said that only recently had you opened up about certain fears that you had had regarding the slams. Wonder if you could talk about how important that process has been for you in terms of unlocking your game at these last two majors?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, it was really important and it's still important to be open with psychologist, or if someone is family, but most of players right now talking with psychologist.
So, yeah, for me was really, it was huge step forward to open like few things which I was really struggling during the Grand Slams, and, yeah, that's was a huge step.
Right now I'm kind of like -- I'm not really thinking anymore about that kind of problems.
Q. You said on court, you talked about how you worked your ass off to win a match like today's against Elise...
ARYNA SABALENKA: That's what happen when I'm a little bit tired and nervous a little bit, I starting swearing. This is like so bad (smiling).
Q. What is that work for you, the hard work that you're doing? How would you describe it?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, we are working a lot on the practice courts, like trying to, I don't know, like trying to prepare myself for long rallies. So I'm like moving a lot, hitting a lot of balls, yeah, trying to be ready for these points, for big points and for -- because every player trying to move me, and they know that they have to move me, and only like this is the way they can beat me.
I'm trying to prepare for that. That's what I mean, like I'm working, I don't want to say it again, but I'm working so hard to be here, I have worked so hard to be here.
Also, with this psychologist, there is so many things you have to be honest with, and you have to be open with your psychologist, telling all the truth. Because before I was trying to like be, like, Oh, I don't afraid of anything or anybody. Like I don't think about this, that, and that.
And this wasn't like really right. And right now I'm really open, and I don't afraid to be open. This is the most important thing.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports