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Sabalenka: Power of One

“I was always searching for something which can help me to control myself better,” Aryna Sabalenka said on connecting to the source of her mental strength.

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, February 19, 2024

Aryna Sabalenka delivered dominance successfully defending her Australian Open title last month. 

Nearly a month removed from her magical Melbourne run, Sabalenka says defending a major still evokes a sense of delight and disbelief. 

More: Richard Evans Q&A

“I’m still shocked I was able to win back to back Australian Open,” Sabalenka told the media in Dubai. “It’s a dream. Yeah, I couldn’t even dream about that.”

While the explosive Belarusian’s expansive game makes her an all-surface threat, for years her volatility and mental fragility made Sabalenka her own worst enemy.

These days, Sabalenka is showing mental strength when it matters most.

Champions say the toughest task in tennis is defending a Grand Slam title.

Sabalenka is the first woman to defend the AO since her Belarusian compatriot, Victoria Azarenka, beat Li Na to seize her second straight Australian Open title in 2013.

The five games Sabalenka permitted in her final conquest of Zheng Qinwen made it the most overwhelming AO final victory since Azarenka destroyed Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 in the 2012 final.

How has Sabalenka transformed herself from self-implosive underachiever, to fierce major fighter who has reaches the semifinals or better in her last six straight Grand Slams?

The world No. 2 says it’s all about connecting to the power of one.

“I had psychologist for four or five years. I don’t even remember how many years, but four or five,” Sabalenka said. “We worked a lot. She helped me a lot. I mean, I guess I was always searching for something which can help me to control myself better.

“After some years working with psychologist, I just decided to kind of, like, take the responsibility on myself, just to, I don’t know, start to, as I said, take the responsibility and don’t wait to somebody help you to fix something.”

Ultimately, Sabalenka said she decided to her to serve herself and take charge of her challenges.

Self-empowerment has yielded success. Sabalenka has surged to an 11-1 start to the season, shaking the label of one Slam wonder while chasing the world No. 1 ranking.

“I feel like no one know better yourself than you,” Sabalenka said. “I think, like, yeah, that was the best decision to kind of, yeah, start.

“I don’t know how to say. It’s tough to say because it’s been long process. I’ve been searching for things. I’ve been reading a lot of books, working with psychologists.

“At the end the only one thing help me is just myself, just stop expecting people to fix my problems, start fixing my problems by myself. I think that’s brought much more confidence and much more control.”

Photo credit: Mutua Madrid Open Facebook

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