John McEnroe warns Aryna Sabalenka is 'a different player' ahead of French Open
by DZEVAD MESIC | VIEW 2795
John McEnroe sees Aryna Sabalenka as "a totally different player" compared to last year and noted the Belarusian has been playing like an extremely confident player since her maiden Grand Slam win at the 2023 Australian Open.
Last year, Sabalenka was heavily struggling with her service as she hit a stunning 428 double faults in 2022. Sabalenka's service struggles impacted her performance and that led to the Belarusian not having much success in some of the biggest tournaments in 2022.
But Sabalenka did her best to resolve her service issues and her efforts have been massively paying off so far in 2023.
McEnroe: Sabalenka is a different player now
“That was a huge problem for her. And it shows you mentally how tough she is that she's been able to sort of overcome that.
As far as the actual technique, I don't think there's very much that's different. I think that at times, she maybe play a little safer, rightfully when the nerves get in the way, and just gets the serve in. And then other times, she's trying to sort of hit bigger on the second serve, the complete opposite, to try to just sort of go for it.
And so it seems like she's found that sort of happy medium of where to be, but it still feels like it can be an issue. And I think that the serve is the most important shot in tennis. So no matter who you are, I think people look at how well you're serving.
Look at [Daniil] Medvedev, all of a sudden he realised, ‘oh, if you have a big service it's important on clay too’. So maybe more focus, more practice, more preparation mentally, has helped her sort of get over the hump.
Obviously when she's won a major now she's going to be a totally different player. Just because I think she feels so much more confident," McEnroe told Eurosport. Sabalenka, who has made five finals and won three titles so far this year, never made it past the third round in each of her first five French Open appearances.
But Sabalenka has never been more confident and this will likely be the year she makes her French Open breakthrough. Sabalenka is the second-seeded player and plays Marta Kostyuk in her opener at the French Open.