Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka says she is looking forward to playing the Netherlands in the Fed Cup this weekend in what will be a rematch of the 2017 tie between the two countries. The 21 year old Sabalenka is ranked No. 13 in the world currently and says she has fond memories of the 2017 tie against the Dutch, which helped give her a lot of confidence.
"It was my first time playing on a big stadium against big players. Before I stepped on the court, my knees were shaking – I couldn’t do anything, I was so nervous. But as soon as I stepped on the court and started playing, I enjoyed it 100 per cent.
It was so cool – we were playing in Belarus, the whole crowd was supporting us – those are crazy, amazing memories. And it really helped me in my own career, to believe in myself and to feel this support – to see that I can play against these kinds of players”.
The two countries meet in the Fed Cup qualifiers this weekend with a spot in the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest on the line. The tie is being played on clay which Sabalenka says she is a bit surprised by. “I’m a bit surprised by the surface.
It’s going to be better for them, but in the middle of the hard court season, that’s going to be a huge challenge. Now it’s fair – in Belarus we played on a hard court, now it’s away we play on the clay court!
But I always play for my team. I love to play Fed Cup – it gives me so much energy, it’s really cool to play – clay court, whatever”. The Belarusian will be hoping to rebound from her first round loss in Melbourne and says she is intrigued by the new format because one nation would be required to play several ties in the same week in the Finals.
"It’ll be interesting to see how it’s going to be – hopefully – playing so many matches in one week. We still need to qualify, but if we do, it will be a lot of matches in one week. It’s really tough to play against one country in two days – all those emotions after Fed Cup are the hardest part.
But to play to the Finals in one week, it’s a huge challenge – which we all like – but we’ll see. Belarus is a small country – usually if someone asks where I am from and I tell them, they don’t know where it is.
No, it’s not Russia, it’s somewhere close to Russia! But Fed Cup has helped to popularise our country, so it means a lot for Belarus, especially our fans, and it’s motivating a lot of young players. It means a lot”.