January 7, 2023
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
A. SABALENKA/I. Begu
THE MODERATOR: Aryna, congratulations on reaching another final. Can you give us your thoughts on your performance today.
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I'm super happy with the level I showed today. She's not easy opponent. She's playing really great this week, so I'm super happy with this win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You've really come into form this week. Obviously the first match was a bit trickier.
ARYNA SABALENKA: The first match?
Q. Yes. The end of last year you beat the top three to make the WTA Finals final. How much does that boost your belief more that on the biggest stages you're really close?
ARYNA SABALENKA: First of all, about that first match against Samsonova, yeah, I was 1-5 down, but I felt like I still can come back. I just need to figure out her serve. I found a good rhythm on her serve and I started returning a little bit better.
I think because I was really calm on court I was able to keep fighting in that set. So it was tough one. I already had this experience coming back from Love-5, so I thought maybe this is another time (smiling). It was a little bit magic. Yeah, was tough match and I happy with that match, with the win in that match.
Secondly, about the WTA Finals, yeah, I was really close. Even in the final, it was just a little bit. Of course, it's giving little bit of confidence. But I don't like to speak about confidence because it's not about confidence. You can really feel this confidence but then lose in the first round because you feel super confident.
I just feel that I have to keep working the way I'm working right now. I hope that things will work better for me.
Q. Can you address each of the semifinalists that you may face, Ons or Linda, how you would approach each of those matches.
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, both of them are playing really great tennis this week. I mean, it's going to be great battle, so I'm really looking forward for this final.
Q. We spoke at the start of the week about you love to have lots of matches leading into a Grand Slam.
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah.
Q. What else do you look for? How you feel mentally, physically? What do you look for to feel it's a perfect preparation?
ARYNA SABALENKA: You never know. As I said before, you can think that your preparation was perfect, you're ready to go, then you lose in the first round. Sometimes you think I'm not ready to play a Grand Slam, then you reaching the semifinals. You never know (smiling).
I just trying to control things I can control, and do my best, see what happens.
Q. Has there been any theme leading into your semifinal appearances at Grand Slams that you connect, something that went right?
ARYNA SABALENKA: I think I'm trying to work on it - especially this week - if I can stay really calm on court no matter what. Just don't get super, super crazy about winning, just do your thing. I think this is the key for me. Especially in matches, semifinals, quarterfinals, finals, I think this is the key for me.
This week I was trying to work on it. I think I'm doing really well.
Q. Obviously you still have a match to play here, but what is next week about for you? You're obviously not playing a tournament.
ARYNA SABALENKA: I think I'll rest for one or two days and then start practicing in Melbourne, getting ready for a Grand Slam. Nothing crazy.
Q. In response to questions, you said throughout the last couple days about how you don't know, confidence doesn't matter, you don't know if the work is going to be enough. That's a very different perspective than maybe you had three years ago where winning was everything, you had to win, and you believed you could win. How different do you feel now at the start of the season to when you were a younger player coming onto the tour?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Thank you for saying that, thank you (laughter).
Q. Is it important for you to have humility, acceptance, that it can all go wrong on any given day?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I actually don't know what else to say. You just said everything (smiling).
Yeah, before I was really crazy about everything. I was young. I had a lot of expectations. I was paying attention for everything.
Right now I'm old. Okay, no, I'm not old, but I'm a little bit older (laughter). What was I about to say?
The thing that I understand is nothing can guarantee you winning a tournament. Helping me a lot to don't have all these expectations, you know? That's why probably I'm able to stay calm on court and just work through whatever.
Q. Can you pinpoint when the change happened?
ARYNA SABALENKA: When?
Q. When you started feeling the way you do now.
ARYNA SABALENKA: I think last year when I was struggling with my serve. I understand that even without my serve, I still have something to play with. It's give me little bit of, not like confidence, but little bit of belief that no matter what's going on on the court, I can come back. Especially when things are working for me like my serve, it's easier to do.
So I think last year help me a lot to understand that serve, it's not only the one weapon I have. That's why, like, right now I'm much more calm on court, and I understand that nothing can give you this guarantee.
Q. If you might face Ons in the final, you had that crazy match in Texas. You know each other very well as competitors. You play different styles of tennis. What is the key to beating her? When you win against her, what are you doing well?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Staying low because she hit really flat, deep balls. Her slice... That's why I have to stay really low to get all these balls back.
Yeah, I think that's pretty much it.
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