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January 17, 2023

Aryna Sabalenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

A. SABALENKA/T. Martincova

6-1, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Welcome back to Melbourne. How does it feel to get that win under your belt in the first round?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, I'm super happy with the win. It wasn't an easy match. Just happy with the good start here.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Good time in Adelaide. You played well. Are you optimistic of really going deep in Melbourne?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I really doing everything I can to get as far as I can, you know. It's tough to say that, Yeah, yeah, I'm going deep. This time I'm going to make a final. I'm going to win a Grand Slam. You cannot say that.

The only thing I can say is that I'm really working hard. Physically, mentally, yes, I'm ready to go deep. Hopefully I will do my best on court, and I will go deep (smiling).

Q. Coming to Melbourne Park after Adelaide, how much more confident did you feel ahead of this first-round match than maybe in years past when you've come to Melbourne Park and maybe just didn't have the success but just didn't have a title under your belt? Did it make a big difference today?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think just because of the last year and because I was struggling with a lot of things, and just because I was able to fix all the problems I was facing last year, and of course after a title, of course I felt like a little bit more, I mean, confidence. Yeah, I mean, if that's the word.

But I just feel that I have everything in my pocket, and I just have to show that.

Q. In general, how much do you look ahead at the draw to see who you might play?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I'm not really looking at the draw, but because of social media, anyway, someone gonna post, like, prediction, like who I'm gonna play. So anyway, I would see that.

Like I'm not opening the draw, and like trying to see, Okay, I'm going to face that, that, that. No, no, no, I'm not doing that. I'm just trying to take it one step at a time.

Q. Do you know who you play next?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I guess it's supposed to be Rogers, you know (laughter).

Q. Can you look ahead to that matchup for us? You've played her a couple of times.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, yeah, we had great battles. She's a great player, great fighter. Yeah, I'm really looking forward.

Q. Are you handling the two weeks of slam life in Melbourne differently than, not just that you have in Melbourne in the past, but at slams in the past? Are there little things that you've learned or changed about your off days, about your preparation days, things like that this year?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Yeah, just if I play early match, I really like to go for some dinner, just to relax, and forget about tennis. And then in the next day I do one practice in the middle of the day, and I really like to watch some easy comedies, you know, just to stay away from tennis.

Of course like we do, we watch my opponent with my coach. It's kind of the same. It's just all about going out from the hotel room. Like sometimes if I have this opportunity I would go for some good dinner just to, how to say, like change, you know.

Yeah, but basically nothing really changed.

Q. Does this format of a slam where you aren't playing back-to-back days like you would in a one-week WTA tournament, is that something that you like or do you not like it? Players are different.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I mean, before, like, few years ago, I didn't really like it. I didn't like to stay with myself like waiting for the next match, for like one extra day like of thinking. It was killing me. Probably that's why I couldn't really success on the slams because I was, like, overthinking and it was creating a lot more pressure.

But right now I really like it. I just, how to say, I like to take it step by step, and I learn myself a little bit better, and I know how to switch off from tennis. Right now I really enjoy this format, you know. Like, I like to stay longer in the slams, enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy the time.

Q. Normally fans are allowed to bring flags into matches. Tennis Australia said today they weren't going to allow Russian or Belarusian flags for the rest of this tournament because they said there was some disruption yesterday with Russian flags. Just wanted to get your thoughts on that. Do you think that's a sensible policy? Do you think that's unfair? How do you feel about the way that's being handled?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, I mean, it's tough to say. As I said, I really thought that like tennis -- not tennis, just the sport, is nothing to do with politics. But, I mean, if everyone feels better this way, then it's okay.

I mean, I have zero control on it. What can I say? They did it, okay, no flags, no flags. Okay.

Q. Could you see how some Ukrainian fans could be upset by the displaying of the Russian flag?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know. I'm pretty sure they upset about that, and, I mean, if Tennis Australia made this decision to make them feel better, okay. I mean, they did it, I mean, what can I do, okay? I can do nothing.

Q. I've been asking a few different players, but the concept of the zone, when you guys are just playing lights-out tennis, for you, when you find yourself in that situation, what does it feel like? What does it look like to you? Does the game look slower? Is your mind clear? You're just making the right decisions? What does it feel like from your position when you're in that way?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don't know, like, it just feels like every decision you're making, it's working. You're, like, Yeah, whatever, I go for that shot. I know it's gonna work.

You just trust yourself more than usually. And, yeah, this is like you just go for shots, go for like crazy shots sometimes, and you see it's working. You're like, Yeah, okay, now I know... It's like confidence before you make this shot and you trust yourself, like trust your decisions. You know that I know that it's right, I go for it. Even if like sometimes it doesn't make sense at all, yeah, this is what I call, like, in the zone (smiling).

Q. How often in a season will you play a match like that, do you think?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Ah, not really often. I think it's mostly it's happen like when you get really deep in the tournament and you had a lot of matches, a lot of different situation. Like, after like three, four, five matches, you're, like, Yeah, whatever, I know it's gonna work, you know.

Probably if you get really deep in the tournament, like semis or finals, you feel like you're in the zone, you know.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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