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January 3, 2022

Aryna Sabalenka

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Aryna, welcome to Adelaide. Talk us through the last few days since you've arrived and how excited you are to be kicking off your season.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I'm really happy to be here. I have a good memories from this city. So, yeah, just really happy to be here and getting ready for the first match.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Aryna, can you walk us through a little bit of your last month and a half after Guadalajara in terms of how much time you were able to spend away from the tennis court, when you started your pre-season, how you feel that went?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I had I think 10 days off after Guadalajara. Yeah, spent some time with my family, had some fun there. Then I start training. I don't know how long was my pre-season, but time went so quick, just like boom and we are here.

Yeah, it was tough weeks. I feel like I improved and ready to go.

Q. On the pre-season, what you and your coaches were focusing on during that time, last year your pre-season was focused on tactical, make good decisions on court. Was there anything in particular you felt like you were focusing on this year?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I was focusing on my body, make sure that like everything is connected - how to say - be in a good balance, hit the ball a little bit earlier. That's what we've been focusing on.

Yeah, same like last year, but we just add few things. Yeah, that's it.

Q. Because in 2021 you had such a successful season according to your ranking, your results at slams, 45 wins, what would make 2022 a better season for you?

ARYNA SABALENKA: If I win a Grand Slam, I think.

Q. Having made it through to two semifinals in 2021, you're so close now, what do you think is the thing that's missing or the next step that will get you over the line to do what you hope to do?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think those two matches which I lost in the semifinals was that little step to make this dream true. I mean, I was really nervous in that matches. I think right now I kind of understand that I can do it. Okay, semifinal, I don't have to overthink or over-rush, panic.

Right now I think I'll not be nervous on the semifinal again in the Grand Slam.

Q. Looking back on everything that you accomplished in 2021, what are the biggest things that you learned about yourself or your game that you take into 2022 that get you closer to that goal?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Wow, I have to think about this question.

I will take the consistency of my game, that I've been there on each week, I've been fighting no matter what. Like I've been injured and I won the title. For me that's means a lot, that I can do it with whatever happened to me. I still be able to fight and to compete. This is the main thing. Doesn't matter on what's going on around you, you just have to focus on your game. No matter what, you can do it.

Q. I assume you've had an opportunity to do some hits. How are you feeling your game is clicking on the practice court right now? Is it where you want it to be or is there more work that needs to be done?

ARYNA SABALENKA: We're focusing on some things on practice courts, not focusing to win sets on the practice courts. So for me everything is fine. I mean, I'm winning, I'm losing. I'm kind of working on some things and not trying to win everything.

I feel fine, like always (smiling).

Q. When you did lose last year, it was always very close. It was rare you got beaten easily. Even though they were losses, is that something you found encouraging? Was the difference in those matches nerves?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Are you talking about Grand Slam semifinals?

Q. Just losses in general last year. It was very rare that you lost in straight sets. I don't know if that says something about your fighting spirit, even if things aren't going that well, not just about Grand Slams.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I would say that all that matches which I lost, I think it's just all about me. I mean, I make winner or I make unforced errors. I just have to focus on myself, try to make less unforced errors - did I say it right - than winners. That's it.

Usually I win the first set and then I can start missing a lot, trying to overhit the ball, like make more winners. Then I start losing in the third set. When the opponent get this feeling that they can do it, it's tough.

I just have to don't try to overhit the ball and just be there from the beginning till the end, don't give these big opportunities for the people.

Q. Your rivalry with Ash Barty, last year you had quite a few matches down to the line. How would you describe that rivalry? Talk about Ash as an opponent, what makes her so good.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, she's a great player. She can do everything on court. That's why she's No. 1. I always like play matches against her. It's always great battles. It's always huge fights.

For me it's always great matches against her. Yeah, that's tough. I would like to play against her like every week in the finals, so yeah (smiling).

Q. Maybe an Australian Open final to take down the home favorite?

ARYNA SABALENKA: It's going to be tough. I played against her in Melbourne once and it was really tough. People support her really, really crazy, like crazy.

I don't know. It's going to be tough. But if it's going to happen, whatever. I don't care. In the final, I don't want to think about people supporting her.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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