January 27, 2023
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
A. SABALENKA/M. Linette
THE MODERATOR: This will be the only pre-final press conference with Aryna.
Congratulations. You're into your first Grand Slam final. Tell us how you're feeling and the emotions surrounding it.
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I'm just super happy right now. It was tough match. Just happy to get this win.
THE MODERATOR: Who would like the first question?
Q. Can you just talk through the match a little bit in terms of that first set, having it be so tight, what was giving you problems, and what was the key to turning it around?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, she played great tennis. I wasn't feel, like, my rhythm quite well at the beginning. She was moving really well, putting everything back. I felt like a little bit under pressure, which I expect.
But, yeah, then, like, I start telling myself that I have to move a little bit better. I try to focus on my movement. As I start focusing on my movement, I start feeling the rhythm better.
Yeah, I mean, then, like, after, I don't know, 3-All or something, I started feeling much better. It was a little bit not like easier to play, but it was about the game, not about the nerves and all this stuff.
Q. How do you expect you'll deal with nerves? What sort of things will you do to cope with that? Tactically for the match, what do you think you have to do to win?
ARYNA SABALENKA: To be honest, I think I'm not going to do something extra. Like, I think that's okay to feel little bit nervous. It's a big tournament, big final. If you're going to start trying to do something about that, it's going to become bigger, you know?
I'll just leave it like that. It's okay to feel nervous.
About the match, yeah, she's playing great tennis, serving well. I just have to be there and have to, again, work for it and put her under pressure. Yeah, that's it.
Q. It wasn't a big celebration from you at the end. Is that because you're trying to stay calmer or is it because you know there's still one more match to come?
ARYNA SABALENKA: There is still one more match to go. It's good that I kind of break through in the semifinals, but there is one more match to go. Yeah, I just want to stay focused.
Q. You just used the word 'break through'. Is there a part of you that maybe feels you got to the semis, you did it a few times, it didn't work out, but now that it did, you feel a little freer, that will make things easier now?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, it's not going to make things easier. It's a final. It's not going to be easy match, you know?
But I just happy that I made this, like, next step. I know that I have to work for that title.
Q. I know you've talked about your serve at length already this tournament. What other elements of your game do you think you've really taken to another level?
ARYNA SABALENKA: I think my movement is a little bit better. I got a little bit better touch. I don't know (laughter).
I worked a lot on everything. I think all aspects of my game is improved a little bit.
Q. In years past you were working with a sports psychologist. Have you been in touch with them during the tournament at all?
ARYNA SABALENKA: To be honest, I decide to stop working with a psychologist. I realized that nobody than me will help, you know?
Yeah, on the pre-season I spoke to my psychologist saying, like, Listen, I feel like I have to deal with that by myself, because every time hoping that someone will fix my problem, it's not fixing my problem.
I just have to take this responsibility and I just have to deal with that. Yeah, I'm not working with psychologist any more. I'm my psychologist (laughter).
Q. Can you think back to maybe the first time you thought you want to win a Grand Slam title?
ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know when was the first time. Maybe when I was 19 or something. I start believing in myself a little bit more. I start to understand that with the work, with the years, I probably will be able to do it.
Q. If you win, you'll do something very unusual. You'll be listed as the first neutral Grand Slam champion. Does that feel weird? Does it feel unusual?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Let's talk about that if I going to win it. If, if, if, I don't like to speak about 'if'. I just want to work for it, yeah, do my best. If I win, you can ask that question and I will answer (smiling).
Q. Can you remember any Grand Slam finals you watched when you were younger? Any matches that stand out?
ARYNA SABALENKA: I think I remember that match Kerber against Serena. She played against Serena in the final, no? Yeah, I think I remember a little bit.
There was TV in the cafe. I was buying some chocolate. Like, Oh, nice match, good job (laughter). Can I get my chocolate?
To be honest, I didn't watch tennis that much. I don't know. I don't know why. I feel so bad right now.
Q. Do you watch much tennis now? Did you watch Elena in the Wimbledon final last year?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Oh, no, I didn't watch Wimbledon last year. I was feeling really bad about that, and I didn't watch Wimbledon at all. I mean, little bit the final just because I was working out in the gym. I saw a little bit. It was great tennis.
I have question, too, female Courtney. How does it feel to be a star? I saw you on Netflix. You were amazing. Tell me about that.
Q. I'll ask you a question. When we talked in Adelaide, you said you were going to be boring, and that boring was going to be what you needed to be in order to win. You haven't dropped a set this year, you're into your first major final. In the last two weeks in Melbourne, what has been the most boring thing? What have you had to stop yourself from being old Aryna to be this level Aryna?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I was trying to less screaming after, like, some bad points or some errors. I was just, like, trying to hold myself, stay calm, just think about the next point.
Actually, I'm not that boring, I think. I'm still screaming 'c'mon' and all that stuff. I don't think it's that boring to watch me. I hope so.
Just less negative emotions.
Q. You're both power players. You've won the last three matches you played before. What makes your power different from her power?
ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know. Maybe you tell me what you think (laughter).
Q. I'm asking you.
ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know actually.
Q. Do you think your power is the same?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Probably. I think it's just different. Like she play a little bit, like, flat, maybe spin a little bit more. I think that's the different.
Q. Not using a psychologist any more, do you talk to your coach about the way you're feeling? Do you talk to yourself? Anybody you now talk to about that kind of stuff?
ARYNA SABALENKA: I talk a lot with my team. Also with my family. I think I know myself quite well. I know how to handle my emotions.
Q. The first game tonight was not your greatest game of tennis. Might that have been a moment in the past where you would have made those mistakes, you would have reacted in a stronger way?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, probably. Probably before I would start screaming on everybody, like feeling bad, starting to overhit balls.
Today I was, like, okay, that's happen, that's fine. I'll just keep working, keep trying, and I think I will find my rhythm.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports