Aryna Sabalenka's start to the season was very positive. The 22-years-old Belarusian started her 2021 season by winning the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open, beating Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2 in the final. With the victories at the end of 2020, Sabalenka extended her best career streak to 15 games, secured her third consecutive title and her ninth of her career that will lead her to number seven on the WTA rankings.
Sabalenka joined the WTA Insider Podcast from Abu Dhabi and reveals how the loss of her father has put her tennis into perspective and how she plans to address rising expectations as she heads to the Australian Open as the most honored player on fire of the moment.
"This is a fantastic week for me. I fought against everything, doing everything possible in every game and I am really very happy with this title. Starting the season with a title is something truly incredible," commented the Belarusian after the victory.
of the Abu Dhabi tournament. "This was a fresh start. I'm not focusing on the past. Now I have to start over from the beginning. I'm actually surprised by this title because I trained indoors on a different surface and coming here, the outdoor courts have a rebound.
really different. Plus it's a bit windy here. Managing these conditions and winning this title is something I'm really proud of. I'm really happy."
The untimely death of the father
"I think the turning point began when I lost my father.
I think after that I realized that there are so many things in life to worry about and tennis is only a small part of my life, in the big picture. Obviously I don't like to lose and I love tennis and I'll do everything I can, but we have to enjoy our life, we have to enjoy our time on the court, enjoy the opportunities we have."
She then returns to her mother's death in November 2019 at the age of 43 years-old: "It was something unexpected, he was young, he was 43, and I didn't want to say it, but I think people should know. During the preseason it was difficult to train mentally.
I didn't think much about it actually, but I wasn't happy, because I knew it was a difficult situation with my family and I couldn't leave them, but somehow I had to go. I was not enthusiastic about the matches, I only played because I had to."