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January 18, 2022

Aryna Sabalenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


5-7, 6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the win. What do you think changed after the first set?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think after I was down 1-3 in the second set I just stopped thinking and I just start playing and my goal was just to put as much balls as I can back and I think that's what helped me a lot to win this match.


Q. Despite some of the struggles at the start of the year, it feels like on social media you were trying to be positive and keep things light. How worried were you coming into this tournament about how things were going?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, after the first matches of the season I was really worried and I spoke with Markos Philippoussis and -- oh, Mark. I'm so sorry. Just, oh, no way. Mark, I know your name is Mark. Okay. Mark.

And, yeah, he was in Adelaide and after my second match he just wrote me, like, Well, girl, just stop thinking a lot on your serve. If you have some time today, because I was leaving on the next day, and he said, like, if you have some time today after my last match, because he was commentating there, after my last match we can go out on the court, I can help you anyhow.

And, yeah, I think at 9 p.m. or 8 p.m. we went on court and we served a lot and he was giving, he gave me some tips about what should I focus on during the game when I'm like struggling with my serve. And my coach was there. They had a nice conversation. We had nice conversation. I really, I'm really thankful to him for this help because that's what helped me today on match to just survive there.

Q. Do you know Mark especially well? How did you get to know him, and is this the first time you've ever worked together like that in like that kind of setting?

ARYNA SABALENKA: We haven't worked. I just, I remember a few years ago at Wimbledon I was struggling with my serve and I saw him serving and I loved the way he was serving when he was playing and I just went to him and asking like, Hey, I have some troubles with my serve. Can you help me, please? And he helped me and, yeah, my serve started working again.

Yeah, I was really thankful to him. And, yeah, I think that's why he wrote me because he said, I felt so bad when you were serving like double fault and double fault and I felt so bad. And he said, I felt like I have to text you and see what can I do for you.

And, yeah. So, yeah, we went out on court and we served for, it wasn't like that much serves, but we spoke a lot, maybe a few hours, and, yeah.

But I was really worried going here about my serve, like, what's going to happen on the match. But I was just, like I tried to stay positive during this practice week and I was trying to stay positive on court today. Maybe it wasn't working well in the beginning, but then I kind of found myself and I was thinking really, how to say, really positive.

Q. At the end of the season you had mentioned that maybe you wanted to work on the serve. During the off-season did you pay, or put particular focus on it and was it like that --

ARYNA SABALENKA: We worked a lot. We worked a lot on serve. But it's not about my serve. If you see me serving on practice court, it's perfect. It's amazing serve.

I just, I think it's all about in here (points to head.) I was thinking a lot on my serve. I was, I tried to control everything and this is not how it works. I have muscle memory and I just have to trust myself and, yeah, that's what I did in the middle of the second set.

Q. Congrats on the win. Do you feel, just being able to pull out of the level that you started the match with and being able to raise it and put everything behind you, did it feel like coming out of that match that you kind of shed a little bit of weight from --

ARYNA SABALENKA: I definitely feel relief, you know? (Laughing.) Yeah, on the beginning, I don't want to say that. She played amazing. But I could push myself a little bit more and, yeah, I didn't play my best tennis. But I'm not looking for the best tennis on the beginning of the tournament. I just want to build myself through the matches. And I just really am happy right now that I was able to go through this tough match.

Q. It felt like as that match went on that it seemed like you were able to start to almost separate what was going on at the service line versus what was going on at the baseline, that in the rallies you started to get better. Is that how you felt as the match went on and do you think that maybe that's the key?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, exactly. Because when you, sometimes, like on the beginning of the match, when I served in, it's actually surprise me. You see how bad was it, so it surprised me and I wasn't ready for the next shot.

And after I kind of find my rhythm back and I found my serve, I just stopped surprising that it's went in and I start playing, I start moving better, I stop thinking a lot about my serve, I just start playing, you know, like just start enjoying the battle, enjoying the atmosphere, even if they was supporting her more but this is something I expect.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and, I mean, it's a great stadium, so I just start playing tennis and start enjoying it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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