Aryna Sabalenka opens up on feeling like 'target' after reaching No. 1 ranking

Sabalenka reached the world No. 1 position for the first time in September.

by Dzevad Mesic
Aryna Sabalenka opens up on feeling like 'target' after reaching No. 1 ranking
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Aryna Sabalenka, 25, says she needs to work even harder now that she is the top-ranked player in women's tennis because she believes she is now "the target." Following her Australian Open win, Sabalenka returned to her previous career-high of No 2 in the world.

After spending seven consecutive months as the world No 2, Sabalenka reached the world No 1 position for the first time in her career when she overtook Iga Swiatek at the top following the conclusion of the US Open. “It’s not that different, to be honest.

I mean, you’re No 1, you’re No 2. If you’re in the top 10, it’s just the same. You’re a top-10 player. I think ranking, it’s just ranking, you know? It’s not like I go on court right now and everyone will be, Okay, I’m not playing, you’re No 1, good luck in the next round.

It’s not changing anything. I still need to work hard. I still need to bring my best tennis on court. I think I even need to work more because right now I feel like I’m a target for everyone. It’s not changing anything.

I’m still working hard, trying to improve," Sabalenka said.

Sabalenka aims to beat out Swiatek for the Year-End No 1 spot

When Sabalenka arrived in Cancun for the WTA Finals, she was 630 points ahead of Swiatek in their battle for the Year-End No 1 award.

Sabalenka is definitely in a better position to finish as the Year-End No 1 but there is still a chance for Swiatek to clinch the award. At the start of the tournament, Sabalenka's mindset will be to focus on her own matches and not think too much about different scenarios. "If you win the first match, you have to stop counting, thinking what should I do to, I don’t know, get out of the group.

You just have to focus on yourself and your game, just stop thinking. That’s the main thing, just focus on your game. You don’t have to overdo things here in the Finals. It’s just another tournament, yet different format. You just have to focus on yourself and try to do your best," Sabalenka said.

Aryna Sabalenka