Petkovic analyzes why Sabalenka's loss in New York was crucial for her

The former German tennis player is convinced that the defeat at the US Open 2023 against Coco Gauff was fundamental for Aryna's growth

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Petkovic analyzes why Sabalenka's loss in New York was crucial for her
© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

In a recent episode of the Tennis Channel's Inside-In podcast, former tennis player Andrea Petkovic analyzed how the defeat at the 2023 US Open against Coco Gauff was decisive for Aryna Sabalenka.

Petkovic explained how this match made the Belarusian realize she had a plan B and to add variety to her game. This translated into super performances displayed by Sabalenka at the 2024 Australian Open.

"I asked her: Aryna, you seem much more like an all-court player. What happened in the offseason, what was your thought process? She said: You know what, when I lost to Coco, I I realized I needed a plan B.

I was hitting the ball well. I was playing well, but Coco was catching up and at a certain point I didn't know how to win a point or create a winner. So I was working on my net game, working on more variety.

I honestly think losing to Coco Gauff in the US Open final was the best thing that happened to Sabalenka because I had the chance to interview her right after she won the Australian Open."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Christopher Pike / Stringer Getty Images Sport
 

Aryna Sabalenka: "I should talk to Novak Djokovic more often!"

About a month after the Australian Open final, Aryna Sabalenka still has the emotions she experienced in Melbourne fresh in her mind. The Belarusian tennis player had a fantastic two weeks, leaving only crumbs to her opponents on her way to her second Slam title.

Sabalenka recalled her Australian triumph and spoke about her goals for the future.

"It was an incredible time. I was super excited. We celebrated my victory, our victory. We had a lot of fun. Yes, I'm still excited about it. I think it's the coolest thing you can get. But it's already in the past and I have to focus on what's next," she told.

Sabalenka then joked that after training last year in Abu Dhabi with Novak Djokovic, her season has completely turned around.

"Maybe I need to talk to Novak more often! Maybe that's why I'm winning. But no, we didn't joke about it," the Belarusian said, smiling.

The two-time slam champion then talked about her maturation process on a mental level.

"I had a psychologist for four or five years. We worked a lot. He helped me a lot. In short, I think I was always looking for something that would help me control myself better. After a few years of working with the psychologist, I decided to take responsibility for myself and not wait for someone to help me solve something. I believe that no one knows themselves better than themselves," said the Belarusian.

Sabalenka has become an example for many colleagues.

"In fact, hearing these things inspires me a lot. I know how difficult it is to fix some things in life and in tennis. It's amazing to know that by fixing your own things, you help others. Is a dream. I'm happy to be an example. I'm happy to talk. I'm happy to help. It's fantastic," the Belarusian analyzed.

The champion finally concluded by talking about her goals: "My mentality is to continue doing what I'm doing, continue to fight, continue to work. After my career, I look back and think: Wow, I managed to achieve this goal."

Aryna explained that she is a more open person, claiming that she is very proud of this, speaking in an interview with the WTA website after her victory at the 2024 Australian Open.

"I'm super happy that I managed to win my second Slam. I really hope I can build my tennis, improve and keep winning. I'm a more open person now.

I'm happy to have built some important friendships on the Tour, like the one with Paula Badosa. Before, I was closed and afraid to open up. I can't ignore the fact that I'm really proud to have taken this step. I have this control over myself, but it hasn't been easy.

It's difficult to improve in this respect when you are such an emotional person and you get emotional all the time. You have to work hard to really have control on the pitch.
I love my team, because even after a victory like this they immediately think about how we can improve. There is time to enjoy the titles won, but it's a question of balance,"
she told.

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