Aryna Sabalenka makes shock revelation ahead of Rome final versus Iga Swiatek

Sabalenka set to face Swiatek in the Rome final after overcoming several obstacles.

by Dzevad Mesic
Aryna Sabalenka makes shock revelation ahead of Rome final versus Iga Swiatek
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Aryna Sabalenka reveals she entered Rome battling an illness and even thought about withdrawing from the tournament after suffering a back injury but now is looking forward to meeting Iga Swiatek in the finally and hopefully doing something a bit differently that will land her a win over the Pole now. 

After falling just short in a three-hour and 11-minute Madrid final thriller to Swiatek, Sabalenka continued her fine form at Foro Italico to make back-to-back WTA 1000 finals. But en route to reaching the Rome final, Sabalenka had to overcome some tough competitions but also a couple of challenges. 

During her Rome quarterfinal match versus Elina Svitolina - which finished after midnight - Sabalenka sustained a back injury but still managed to save a match point en route to claiming a 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7) round-of-16 win. 

After overcoming Svitolina in a thriller, Sabalenka also earned a 6-2 6-4 win over Jelena Ostapenko and defeated Danielle Collins 7-5 6-2 in the semifinal.

"After Madrid, I didn't feel great. I had illness, then I got injured. I kind of surprised that I even was so much stuff going on I was able to made it to the final. Kind of like surprised," Sabalenka said.

"At the same time I knew that the level is there. If I start feeling better, I can go to the finals. So it's like 50/50, you know?

"But, I mean, that match definitely hurt me. It was really tough loss, especially after having some match points, even though she played great tennis. Yeah, was tight match. Hopefully here in Rome I can get the win and get the title."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Sabalenka considered pulling out of Rome; won't hesitate if she feels pain versus Swiatek

After a late-night win over Svitolina on Monday, Sabalenka considered withdrawing from the tournament and giving Ostapenko a walkover. But on Tuesday, Sabalenka had a day off and she used that day to rest and get some intense treatment. 

When the time came for Sabalenka to play Ostapenko, the second-seeded Belarusian decided to first test her body and see if there would be any pain or discomfort. After checking all the boxes and getting confirmation that she was ready to play, Sabalenka took on Ostapenko and ultimately sealed a win. 

In the Ostapenko and Collins matches, Sabalenka didn't feel any back pain. But if that happens against Swiatek in the Rome final, Sabalenka indicates she won't risk anything going into the French Open.

"I was considering retiring from the tournament. Lucky me, I had an extra day. I was doing a lot of recovery. I'm still doing lots of exercise, lots of treatments, always taking care of my lower back. It's getting better. So I guess we're on the right way.

"I don't know. I'm doing everything myself to recover as fast as I can and to be ready for the Paris. Right now I'm feeling great. I'm not in pain during the matches.

"Of course, if something going to happen in the match, I'm going to pull out because Paris is around the corner. Hopefully it's not going to happen. I feel like it's not going to happen. So just stay positive."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Sabalenka on her plan for the Rome final versus Swiatek

Two weeks ago, Sabalenka fell just short to Swiatek in what was undoubtedly the match of the year on the WTA Tour so far. 

During the Madrid final, Sabalenka had a couple of great chances to seal the win but just didn't convert. In the third set, Sabalenka was the first to make a notable move when she claimed a break for a 3-1 lead. After blowing that break, Sabalenka had two championship points on Swiatek serve in the 12th game - one more championship point in the tie-break - but didn't realize.

Now going into the Rome final, Sabalenka will try to do some things a bit differently and see if that gets her over the hump.

"You always look for new things. You always try to improve lots of stuff, especially after those kind of matches like in Madrid. You always try to find something else. You always try and find some stuff to improve where you can get better so next time you'll be able to finish the match," Sabalenka explained.

"After Madrid we work a lot on couple of things. We'll see. We'll see on Saturday if it's going to help me or not and we'll move from there. I really have strong belief that I can get that win."

Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek
Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

If Sabalenka beats Swiatek, she will win her first Rome title and also her first title since the Australian Open.

Aryna Sabalenka Iga Swiatek