New world number one Aryna Sabalenka opens up on mental shift

New world number one Aryna Sabalenka opens up on mental shift

Aryna Sabalenka may have lost the battle at the US Open, but she won the war on the way to becoming world number one.

The Belarusian star was in the driving seat in Saturday's US Open final against local favourite Coco Gauff. Sabalenka was a set up and firing on all cylinders at Arthur Ashes Stadium before an inspired Gauff found her mark and rode the wave of home support all the way to her maiden grand slam title.

But there was a silver lining for Sabalenka. The Minsk native has been chasing the indomitable Iga Swiatek for the better part of her incredible 75-week run as world number one, but this week she caught her prey. Coupled with her maiden grand slam title at the Australian Open title earlier this year, 2023 has proved a breakthrough year for Sabalenka.

The thing is, Sabalenka has always had the physical attributes to reach the highest mantle of women's tennis. But this season, she has focused on the most important muscle of them all¦ the one between her ears.

"It's been really difficult to improve this part of my game," admitted Sabalenka on

"I'm a really emotional person on court, but off court, it's really tough to make me upset. You have to do something really terrible to me. The goal was to bring this Aryna on court.

"I worked really hard. I work with psychologists to get to know myself better. It's been a lot of work, physically and mentally. I was trying to improve all aspects of my game.

"The thing that helped me improve that part of my game is when I was dealing with all those double faults. I had to learn how to play when I had literally nothing. Just play with my character, just fight for it.

"When I fixed my serve, I realized that I actually can return well, I can serve well now, I can move well. Mentally, I'm really strong. Nothing can really destroy me."

In terms of ascending the world rankings, consistency is your most powerful weapon. And in order to overtake someone who was at the top for the better part of 18 months, Sabalenka has it spades.

"When you understand yourself better, when you know yourself better, when you know how to control your emotions, it's not that hard [to be consistent]," continued a thoughtful Sabalenka.

"If you're working hard, if you're if you're doing everything you can to be ready for all these battles, it's not that hard. You're just focusing on yourself.

"If you work hard, you know that you have something to bring on the court and you have something to show. You have this belief that, yeah, I can win all these matches. I just have to focus on myself and play my tennis and do things that we've been working on."

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