Last Updated: February 20, 2023, 14:26 IST
Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open (Reuters)
Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open final to claim her maiden Grand Slam crown and feels the triumph has motivated her more than ever before to build on her success
Aryna Sabalenka heads into this week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships as the WTA Tour’s newest Grand Slam champion, and the Belarusian said she is more motivated than ever before to build on her success.
The big-hitting 24-year-old rallied to beat Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 4-6 6-3 6-4 in last month’s Australian Open final to claim her maiden Grand Slam crown after three previous semi-final defeats at the majors.
“It means a lot. I believed in myself but I was waiting for so long, working so hard and couldn’t get it. I had tough losses in the semi-finals,” said Sabalenka, who will return to the tour for the first time since her Melbourne Park triumph.
“When I won… I was super happy. I couldn’t believe it in the beginning. Then for the next week, I was like ‘Oh, my God I did it. Yes, it’s happened.’ I was having this conversation in my head that, ‘Wow. It’s so amazing.’
“Now I have even more… I want more. ‘Motivation’, that is the word. More motivation to work hard, just to feel it again.”
Sabalenka said her major win had “definitely changed” her mindset a little bit but she would not get complacent.
“I still have to prove every time on the court that I’m in the right place,” she added.
Adelaide champion Sabalenka, who is unbeaten in 11 matches this year, will meet Jill Teichmann or Linz champion Anastasia Potapova in the Dubai second round after being handed a bye but said she was not too focused on the draw.
“I’m taking it step by step. Sometimes you look too far, then you lose the first match because you’re already thinking about your semi-final match,” Sabalenka said.
“Each opponent is really tough. Tennis has improved a lot. If you see in the draw a number one playing against a number 30, it doesn’t say anything. Anyone can beat anyone.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)
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