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November 9, 2021

Aryna Sabalenka

Guadalajara, Mexico

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Aryna, can you give us your quick thoughts and of impressions of arriving in Mexico and what you're most excited for the Finals to get started.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, I'm really glad to be here. Yeah, it's amazing atmosphere here. Yeah, I really like Mexico. I've been here maybe seven or eight years ago for some juniors. Yeah, I had a lot of good memories from there. I like the culture.

Yeah, I'm looking forward for a great matches. Hopefully I can show great tennis and go as far as I can and do my best.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You haven't played a lot of tennis since the US Open. What have you been up to? Have you kind of used the period to refresh, get healthy, also think a little bit about getting your body ready for next season around the corner?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, after US Open I had a little bit of time off. I had a really tough preparation for Indian Wells. Yeah, unfortunately I tested positive for COVID. I stay in the room for 10 days, which wasn't really fun. Then I practiced for little bit.

Yeah, because didn't play a lot of matches, I asked for wild card in Moscow. Well, wasn't enough time to prepare for the tournament. I lost there in the second round, unfortunately.

I went to Miami for another block of preparation, which was really hard. I'm really happy that I'm here, healthy, hopefully ready to go. Not hopefully, I think I'm ready to go (smiling).

Q. Was your COVID experience relatively mild in terms of symptoms? It was more about doing quarantine?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, for four days I was really sick. I couldn't move. After four days, it was all about the quarantine. I think maybe on day six I could already go out and maybe do some jogging or start to do some preparation, but, yeah, I couldn't go out. I stay in the room for 10 days. I was doing some workout there, but it wasn't enough. It's not so much space, you cannot move. You just stay in one place and do floor exercise. Honestly, it's not really helping that much.

But, yeah, I was sick for four days at least. I didn't have taste, I didn't have smell. Wasn't really amazing time.

Q. Do you feel like you're all clear now, everything is perfect with you?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, I think I'm clear right now because in Miami I did the vaccine, Johnson and Johnson. I think I safe from... I don't know. Hopefully I'm safe because I don't want to stay on the quarantine anymore. It's not a lot of fun.

Q. A lot has been said about the altitude here in Guadalajara. How do you feel on the practices you have had here in Mexico? How do you feel about your playing style here?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, first day I arrived here, I mean, I wasn't surprised but I was shocked that I cannot control anything. I was playing around the strings a little bit, found the perfect tension. I start practicing. I think with every day I feel better and better.

I have another day because I start to play Thursday, I think. So, yeah, I feel much better right now with the altitude and with the conditions here. So, yeah, hopefully I'll be able to show my best on the first match.

Q. In terms of your experience at your first WTA Finals, what were you expecting? What are your expectations for this week? What is your mindset to play this tournament? For a lot of first-time qualifiers it can feel like a reward, but obviously you also want to win it. How do you manage that?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, you have to deal with the pressure. I think I'm doing well with the pressure. Yeah, I'm, like, really happy to be here, especially top seeded. I couldn't imagine one day I will be top speeded on the WTA Finals. For me this is something amazing and unbelievable. I'm really super happy with my level this year. I'm really proud of my team, what they have done for me this year.

Yeah, I'm just really looking forward for all these big matches. I'm really hoping that I can show my best and I can show great tennis and go as far as I can.

Yeah, this is all I have. This is only expectation I have.

Q. Regarding your season, you had so many great results, big breakthroughs at the slams, things you can be very proud of. What is the result? Maybe it's not a result, but can you point to something that you are most proud of about your 2021 season?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Definitely about my last two Grand Slams results because for me it was really important. I don't know how it happened, but I had this wall and I couldn't break it. I was just like every time I was losing, first, second, third round few times.

Yeah, I was really proud of myself after Wimbledon. I mean, I lost in semis. I would say for me was really sad lose. I was feeling well. I was playing well. I still lost it. For me was a little bit disappointed. Anyway, I was really proud of myself. I did it again. Okay, I lost it again in the semis. Maybe I have to go through it again.

Yeah, definitely about my Grand Slams result, the last two.

Q. When we first got to know you as a player, the Fed Cup where you put the team on your back, everyone was impressed by your power and how potentially that could be on the tour. People doubted whether or not you could do it all the time. When you think back on how you've changed as a player, improved to be the top seed, No. 2 in the world, what do you think you had to do to do that? How hard was it for you to make the changes?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, I changed a lot since Fed Cup. I think the first Fed Cup we played was against Netherlands. Since then I changed a lot. It was really hard work to change the mindset: instead of hitting every ball as hard as I can, sometimes go for the bigger targets, sometimes stay in the point, sometimes you have to defend, sometimes you have to attack.

To change this mindset, it was really huge work. I work really, really hard with my team. I'm really happy that I improved as a player so much since that time. Hopefully I can keep working and keep improving. There is a lot of things I have to improve, which is good.

So, yeah, was really hard work for me.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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