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September 7, 2022

Aryna Sabalenka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

A. SABALENKA/Ka. Pliskova

6-1, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Straight sets. A crisp hour and 22 minutes. Your thoughts on your play this afternoon.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, it was tough match. Always tough matches against Karolina.

Yeah, I think I start really well, and the first set was really high level for me and put a lot of pressure on her. Yeah, first set was really great.

In the second set, I knew she will kind of trying to come back and she will do better. I just tried to hold my serve and try to put her under pressure on her serve.

Yeah, happy with this win.


Q. You served so well today. Afterwards, you credited the person who helped you with your serve in your on-court interview. Can you say the name of that person and talk about some of the work you have done?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, let me just leave this part of my -- will probably speak about this a little bit later. Just changed my biomechanic stuff.

Yeah, I have new, one more coach in my team and he's really helping me with my serve. Yeah, we changed a lot.

Q. Could you please tell me his name?

ARYNA SABALENKA: It's -- let me double-check. I just don't really know the surname, but just know the name Gavin.

Q. On the court you just seemed so clear, and I'm curious if this is the most clear everything has felt for you on the court and how long.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I'm happy that it looks like that, but, yeah, sometimes it's not only like really going my way and sometimes I don't feel some shots. I'm just trying to work through it and just do my best.

Q. How hard was it to not be able to play Wimbledon? How did you make use of that time and maybe work on your serve? What did you do?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, I had another preseason. I worked really hard, and I worked a lot on my serve.

Yeah, it was tough time, especially when I was working out in the gym and there was Wimbledon playing on the TV. I was always turn it off because I couldn't watch it. But it was tough time, and I worked so hard. Yeah, I worked a lot in that period.

Q. Is it hard to play and prepare and do all your work with everything that's going on with the political situation?

ARYNA SABALENKA: It's tough and it's a lot of pressure. I'm just trying to think in that way, that I'm just an athlete and I have nothing to do with politics. I'm just trying to play my best and make sure that people enjoying watching my matches.

Q. You said that you couldn't watch Wimbledon on the telly. Did it give you a bit more of a kick, do you think, for this swing of the season, having missed that bit? Did you feel like you really had to make the most of it?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Did I miss the -- you mean the Wimbledon swing?

Q. Yes.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yes, of course I did. I like that tournament. I had a lot of good memories from there, and I miss it very much. That's why I wasn't able to watch it, because it remind me about the great time I had there.

But it's okay. Whatever.

Q. Did it give you like an extra, I don't know if you say "motivation," but extra bit for this part of the season?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think so, yeah. I think so. Yeah, I worked really hard. They took away one opportunity from me, and I work really hard for this one.

Q. During Wimbledon, were you actually in Belarus or you were...

ARYNA SABALENKA: I was in Miami.

Q. You were in Miami? Okay. Other things? You were just practicing, not having a good time in Miami?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, of course I was having a good time there. I was working hard, of course, and I also had some days off there.

Yeah, I was spending time in the good restaurants and on the beach. I mean, I like Miami. It's beautiful. It's great to be there, and I have done hard work there and I also had fun there. I had a good time there.

Q. You have a second home there?


Q. Since we don't know yet who your next opponent will be, I'd like to ask you about one and then the other, starting with Jessica. What do you consider the keys to your doing well against Jessica?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, first of all, she's a great player. I'm just trying to stay focused on the matches against her, and I'm just trying to make her work for it, make her move, and every time I play against her, I'm just trying to put a lot of pressure on her.

I think this is the key, that I'm trying to put her under pressure.

Q. What does make her a great player? You described her as a great player.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Because she's a great fighter and she's serving well, hitting the ball quite flat and deep. That's why it's really tough to kind of put her under pressure, because you have to stay really low and you have to get these balls really deep back, because if you go up she will finish it easily.

Q. And then Iga.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, she's a great player, always tough matches against her. She's moving well, hitting the ball really well, serving well.

She's a tough opponent, but I'll do my best there and I'll make her work as much as I can.

Q. When you look back to when you were in the semifinals of Wimbledon, how are you different now, both as a person and as a tennis player?

ARYNA SABALENKA: It's a huge difference. There it was my first experience being in the semifinal, and especially, first of all, it was first experience being in the second week of the Grand Slam and I was almost about to cry in the match kind of to break through in the first week.

Then I was in the semifinal, and then it was a lot of expectations. I felt like, okay, I think this is my time, I'm gonna win it. I would say that, like, I didn't expect her to play that well. I expect me to win, like, the rest of the matches really easy.

And then I had another experience in the semifinal. Again, I lost it. Now I don't have any expectations. I know it's going to be tough, and I know I have to work for it, and I have to fight for it.

Also, after this season when I was struggling with a lot of things and I couldn't play my best, but still I was there, I was fighting, and right now, again, I'm in the semifinal, and I have zero expectation for myself. It's going to be tough, and I know I have to really work hard for this win. Now I will just go there and fight for every point.

Q. What was your mindset entering this tournament, knowing that you had defending points, you didn't get to play Wimbledon. How did you feel? I know you are saying you are trying not to have expectations, but that's easier said than done. What was the mindset coming in? Did you expect to make it this far?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Not really. I didn't expect that. I mean, during the Wimbledon swing, I already prepare myself that I will drop in the ranking, whatever. I already prepare myself that I will lose all my points.

I was trying to don't really think about that. I was trying to prepare myself for the next season. I think that's why it took the pressure off me. I think that's really help me. Again, I already was in this position I think -- I don't remember the year. I think 2018, I think, the year or the next year when I won Wuhan and I did well in the end of the season, and then on the next season, I wasn't doing really well, and then, like, again in the end of the season I had a lot of points to defend, and I deal with this pressure quite well.

It's sort of second time I did it again, and I'm still on the tournament and I still have opportunity to get extra points. I'll do my best.

Q. How have you been able to spend your days off? The last two years, New York hasn't been as open as it is now. Were you able to do anything maybe you hadn't been able to do the last couple of years?

ARYNA SABALENKA: You know what? When I was playing early matches, then I would go for dinner like later in the day. But my last matches was pretty late, and I was just, like, going back to the hotel and trying to recover. Next day I was just ordering Uber Eats.

Same like I did last year. I was too lazy to go somewhere and I was too focused on my matches. Didn't change too much actually. Probably today I will go to another good restaurant.

Q. Do you have a particular kind of food when you are here?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I actually like Italian food. Doesn't matter where I am, I'm always going for Italian food.

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