"After every slam I was so disappointed about myself that I can't handle this pressure," Aryna Sabalenka had mentioned on her inability to go deep in many tournaments, but especially the majors. But this is a different time now.
She's broken through with her struggles and is looking forward to being in her first slam semifinal. She hold 16 WTA titles but her confidence soared when she defeated Tunisia's Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-3 on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
It seems like a dream for Sabalenka who's never made it past the second round of a grand slam, now she's in it and hopefully to win it. But so was her opponents. Ons Jabeur may have lost to the Belarusian in straight sets but was the first Arab to make it through to the Wimbledon quarterfinal.
It was also her first time on Centre Court. But Sabalenka has her next opponent to think about and how she can keep up her winning streak and also to push to the Wimbledon final. She will meet Karolina Pliskova who was the no.
1 in the world four years ago. The Czech is now number 13 and is feeling lucky to even get this far. This is her first Wimbledon semifinal and just grateful for being in the second week of a tournament, not doing well in over 5 years.
"I'm just happy it worked out well in these two weeks," Pliskova says sincerely. Aryna Sabalenka has everything to be confident about and even has a head-to-head of 2-0 on Pliskova in her career. But she knows things can change in an instant and is looking towards the positives in going to her first semifinal round.
The ranking of the Belarusian has moved to no. 3 just heading to the semifinal. If she wins the match with Pliskova, she will be no. 2 in the world. She still remembers the emotional pain of not making it deep into slams and says "I kind of accept this situation that I'm under pressure in the grand slam tournament." It has worked out well her sessions with the team and her psychologist on beating not only her opponents but the constant fate of doing poorly at the majors.
Bit by bit it seems as though Sabalenka is completing her 'bucket list' of things to do on the WTA tour. She has determination and confidence feeling "I still have this opportunity to win a slam. I will do everything I can to reach my goal."