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January 19, 2023

Aryna Sabalenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Aryna, congratulations on your win today. Can you give us your overall thoughts on the match and your performance?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, it was a great match. Always a tough opponent to play against, and I'm super happy that I was able to finish this game in two sets.

Yeah, it didn't start well, but then find my rhythm and yeah (laughing).

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You're returning, particularly on the second serve of Shelby, I think you hit -- in one set you had six winners in a row. It just seemed like you were seeing it like a watermelon or hitting it really well. What was the key there?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know. I didn't really try to go for all those winners. I was just, like, picking the target, and I was, like, yeah, okay, I'll go there. That's it.

Q. Could I ask about your serve? You served superbly again today. I don't believe you've -- no, today might have been the first time you dropped for the year. You had some problems about 12 months ago here. It seems like it's been a great progression.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah. I mean, I worked a lot on my serve. Like, really a lot. You can't even imagine how much I worked. I'm just super happy right now that everything is working. I mean (laughing - knocked on wood), because usually when you say something like, you just hear that and so (laughing)... yeah.

Q. When you look at women serving, Serena Williams has been seen as a standard-bearer. Ash Barty had a beautiful sort of kicking serve. You've got a great variety, great versatility and power. It can be a real weapon. Who did you look to when you were growing up and had to model it, or was it something...

ARYNA SABALENKA: To be honest, I didn't look to anybody. I was just hitting the ball as hard as I could, and I hope that one day I will find the right target (laughing).

But, I mean, I always was aggressive player, and I always, as a kid especially, wanted to finish it easily on my serve. So probably that's why I hit it hard, and that's why my weapon.

With the ages I worked a lot on the serve, so sometimes when I have to go for, like, too much. But, yeah, answering your question, I didn't really look to anybody. But I liked -- okay, I say that. I liked how Serena dominated on her serve, of course.

Q. When you were trying to fix your serve, did you have to do much mental work on it, or was it just technique?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Oh, my God, I did I think almost everything to trying to fix my serve. Like, the whole year we were trying different things mentally, mental stuff, technique, technical, trying to breathe differently.

I mean, I tried a lot. I was watching a lot of videos of my serve. Yeah, and we just start working with a Barmahani (phonetic) guy at the end of last year, and it's helped.

Q. Did you watch videos of when you had no problems, and you were watching your old...

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I watched a lot of different videos, like when I had no problems, when I had problems, trying to understand what is different.

Then when we started working on the Barmahani (phonetic) standard, actually when I was serving well, it wasn't great. I remember there was a lot of moments when on the key moments I was serving double faults or I was overhitting. My serve actually never been that good. So right now I feel a little bit better because at least I know what it should look like, you know?

Q. It's the hardest thing to fix, isn't it, the serve, if you have a problem?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I mean, everyone is saying that this is the easiest for sure because the ball is in your hand, and you control everything. But, yeah, this is the hardest thing to fix, to be honest.

Q. Do you have a preference for when you like playing? I think you've had back-to-back 11:00 a.m. starts here. Is that in part from you or is it...

ARYNA SABALENKA: I didn't ask. I mean, they scheduled me on the first match, so I'm happy to play. I mean, it's always different.

Sometimes you like to finish early and then you're free for the day. Sometimes because of the crowd, like, at 7:00 p.m. it's much more people watching, and it's a different atmosphere. So sometimes I prefer to play 7:00 p.m., but I don't know. I would keep playing 11:00 a.m. I'm good with this schedule.

Q. I'm writing a feature about the word "choking" that's used in tennis a lot, but --


Q. To choke. You miss any really easy ball on a match point or maybe you're winning 5-1 and you lose the lead. What does it mean to you, that word, because a lot of people think of different things, you know, whether it's mental.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I didn't know about this word before, so right now I have to think what does it mean.

I don't know. Probably, yes, when everything is going your way, you're winning, and then in one moment, like, you just miss the easy ball and you lost the match, you know? You always will be thinking about that ball thinking, like, how stupid you are. Like, how could I "choke" like that?

Q. And just having the two-stroke set wins to start with to move into the third round when you've had -- weather has been pretty wild in Melbourne. Does that make you feel like you've got -- you know, things are progressing well for you, and you are looking the other rivals, or do you keep focusing mainly on yourself?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I'm just focusing on myself. I mean, I'm trying to control what I can control, and the only think I can control is myself, so I'm just trying to stay like that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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