Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 18- March 2, 2024
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 18, 2024

Aryna Sabalenka – Press Conference – 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

2024 Women's Pre-Tournament: Sabalenka

THE MODERATOR: Aryna, congratulations. Australian Open champion back to back. Talk about your emotions coming off that slam win and preparations for Dubai.

ARYNA SABALENKA: It’s been amazing time. I was super excited. We celebrate my win – our win. Yeah, we had so much fun. Yeah, I’m still emotional about that. I think it’s the best thing you can ever, ever get.

But, as I say, it’s already in the past and I need to focus on the next one.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Compared to last year, after your first one, how different does it feel now? Is it easier or harder to lock in again and be good to go?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think it’s a little bit different. Last year it was, like, the first slam, super excited, new feeling. This year, defending champion, it’s also kind of like a pressure. You just try to separate yourself from that pressure. At the time you win it, you kind of feel so much relief. Oh, thanks (smiling).

Yeah, it’s easier. Okay, I did it. Thanks, God. We’re ready to go for the next one.

Q. When you say you’re still emotional with respect to winning in Australia, what do you mean by that? Is it happiness? Are there times where you get choked up? What do you mean by ’emotional’?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I’m still shocked I was able to win back to back Australian Open. It’s a dream. Yeah, I couldn’t even dream about that, so…

That’s what I mean.

Q. Aryna, I remember in the XO in Abu Dhabi the year before, you were hanging around with Novak. Same team, training together. Next thing you know you’re winning back-to-back Australian Opens. Have you talked about this and are you trying to pull a Novak there?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I guess I need to speak more often to Novak maybe. Maybe that’s why I’m winning. I need to talk about that (laughter).

But, no, we didn’t joke around about the topic.

Q. It’s very important in the tennis world to keep up the mindset. I can see that your mindset has changed. Maybe you are calmer now. What did you do to change this mindset? I can understand anger, not to win, it’s very heavy. So how did you unleash a new mindset or new Aryna Sabalenka?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I don’t know. I had psychologist for four or five years. I don’t even remember how many years, but four or five. 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.

I feel like no one know better yourself than you. 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.

Q. I was talking to another player yesterday who is also an aggressive player who says she looks to you as a really good example of somebody who’s learned how to be balanced in that aggression, not just always overhitting. I’m curious if hearing that is surprising to you? Other players are looking to you and say that is an example to follow. How much do you embrace or are you reluctant to embrace that kind of leadership, setting an example on the tour?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Actually, that’s inspiring me right now to hear this kind of stuff. I know how hard it is to fix some things in life, in tennis. It’s amazing knowing that, like, by fixing your stuff, you kind of helping others. That’s a dream. I’m happy to be an example. I’m happy to talk. I’m happy to help. That’s amazing (smiling).

Q. When you were going through the process of honing that power, did you watch anyone else, whether someone from now or in the past, who kind of has a similar game and struggled with the same things to get inspiration from?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I mean, of course there is so many things you can pick from every player. On that topic, I would say, no, I didn’t. You never know what the person is going through. For everyone things can work differently.

As I said, I’m trying to understand myself better. Sometimes for somebody is better to do one thing, for me is another. I wouldn’t say that I was, like, really looking to somebody.

Q. I watched a couple months ago a match with Paula Badosa. Tell us about the relationship in the tennis world. It’s hard to be at the same level who have a friend that got your back all the time. You were training with her yesterday.

ARYNA SABALENKA: I think it’s important. I think it’s important to have a friend, especially on tour. It’s also can help to handle your emotions, like talk to somebody.

Paula, we agreed from the beginning on the court we’re opponents, off court we’re friends. Off the court you can swear, say whatever you like. That’s a good balance of friendship.

Q. A lot of the players say winning is addictive.

ARYNA SABALENKA: It is (smiling).

Q. Now that you have two slams, what goal do you set for yourself? Are you the kind of person who wants to go double-digits or you don’t think about that? What is your mindset now in terms of goal setting?

ARYNA SABALENKA: 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.

I’m not the type 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.

Q. I’m curious, we’re almost two months into the season, are you surprised at all generally by the results across the board? Obviously you defend Australia. Iga wins Doha. Coco wins Auckland. Ostapenko. Anything that surprises you so far as you look at the tour two months into the season results-wise, performance-wise?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Not like surprised. But I’m happy to see the top players, like, constantly there, the top players winning the titles. I think that’s something what women’s tennis was missing.

I think it’s amazing to have, I don’t know, this game. Like you’re in the top and you’re competing with the top players. It’s not like you know another top player going to drop and you’re waiting them to fail and see. You kind of see that it’s getting, like, really…

Q. Consistent?


I’m happy to see this consistency. I hope I can continue what I’m doing, and I’m not going to be the top player that can drop the level.

Q. It’s interesting to hear you say that. You’re competing hard against each other for the top spots. Is there a sense of camaraderie? You feel, Okay, if another top player wins as a top player, as a group, you want to separate yourselves from everybody else?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I love it actually. I do love it. I love to face really tough challenges in the last stages of the tournaments. I think, like, every final I play against Jelena or Iga, it’s always great battle.

I always enjoy fighting, kind of like enjoy trying to get it instead of get it easily, if I can say that. I like to fight for wins.

After, when you get this win, you’re feeling better, like you actually faced the challenge, you kind of went through it, you get the title. It’s more enjoyable.

This is what I would say, like a real winning.

Q. You reached the final in Dubai Duty Free three times in the last three years.


Q. Three matches. You did not take the final.

ARYNA SABALENKA: Did not, okay. I thought you said I did. I was like, I forget that (laughter).

Q. Do you think the winning season for you going to affect your results and you will take it this year?

ARYNA SABALENKA: I quite didn’t get the question.

Q. Do you think the positive winning of your season, 2023, will affect your results here, being more calm and more relaxed, coming from winning? Do you think you will reach the final at Dubai Duty Free?

ARYNA SABALENKA: Wow, what a question.

You never know. Like, you can win the tournament and it’s not going to… How to say? It doesn’t mean that the next tournament you’re going to win or you’re going to reach the final. You never know.

The last season is the last season and it’s not going to affect this season. You still have to work for it. But I do my very best to reach the final or probably win the tournament.

I like this tournament. I like this place. Like, winning this tournament means a lot for me. It’s one of the goals. I’ll do my best.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone.



FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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