Sabalenka has appetite for more success in Dubai

AFP , Sunday 18 Feb 2024

World number two Aryna Sabalenka said on Sunday she was "addicted to winning" and hungry for more major glory following her successful title defence at the Australian Open last month.

Sabalenka
File Photo: Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open women s singles title last month. Photo: AP

The Belarusian returns to action this week at the WTA 1000 in Dubai to contest her first tournament since her second Grand Slam triumph at Melbourne Park.

Sabalenka, who opens her Dubai campaign against Donna Vekic in round two, admits she is still "shocked" she was able to retain her title in Melbourne, describing it as a "dream", but is already looking ahead in search of more silverware.

"My mindset is to keep doing what I'm doing, keep fighting, keep working. After my career, to look back and think, 'Whoa, I was able to achieve that. That's crazy'," Sabalenka told reporters in Dubai.

"I'm not the type of person that is going to win something and stop. Like I said, I'm addicted to wins. I felt like it's just something in my blood and I keep doing, keep working, and hopefully keep winning."

After struggling to make it past the fourth round in her first 14 Grand Slam appearances, Sabalenka has now reached at least the semi-finals in her last six consecutive majors, exhibiting incredible consistency at the highest level.

Fixing her own problems

During that period, the 25-year-old has overcome serious serving woes and has undergone a mental transformation on court, exuding control and confidence after years of struggling emotionally during matches.

"I guess I was always searching for something which can help me to control myself better," said Sabalenka.

"After some years working with a psychologist, I just decided to kind of took the responsibility on myself, just to start to take the responsibility and not wait for somebody to help you fix something.

"At the end the only one thing helping 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."

Sabalenka has taken some time to celebrate her Australian Open triumph and says she is still feeling "emotional" about her victory but "it's already in the past and I need to focus on the next one".

Meanwhile, top-seeded Iga Swiatek has touched down in Dubai, a day after pulling off an impressive threepeat in Doha.

The Polish four-time major champion is the first player to win the same WTA titles three times in a row since Serena Williams reigned supreme in Miami from 2013 to 2015.

"It's crazy. Honestly, when I came to Doha, I was thinking a little bit about that," said Swiatek on her rare hat-trick.

"It got my expectations little bit higher and the pressure little bit higher. I'm happy that during the time I played I could focus on the right things and really get the work done.

"After it happened, it was just surreal and amazing."

Swiatek is not too concerned about the quick turnaround from Doha to Dubai, noting her success at both events last year, where she followed up her Qatar Open title victory with a runner-up showing in the Emirates.

The world number one has a bye in the opening round in Dubai and awaits the winner of the clash between former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and French qualifier Clara Burel in round two.

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