Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Aryna Sabalenka: Where Is The Belarusian Tennis Player Now?

The Belarusian, kind of in a hurry on the circuit, had landed in bulldozer mode after a first entry in the Top 100 in 2017. For it was Aryna Sabalenka who had swept away everything in her path in 2018 to finish the year at the gates of the Top 10. Relying on her physique (1.82 m), she has to get there working on this exceptional striking force that puts her so quickly in a winning position on most points. What could the result be? Of Course a meteoric rise, performances against the best, and titles until reaching ten trophies in 2021. Better still, that year, the Belarusian finally managed to reach a Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, a first that was sorely lacking in view of her potential and allowed her to achieve her best ranking (2nd currently in May 2023). She then did it again at the US Open, in 2021 but still not satisfied she did it once more in 2022 where only Iga Swiatek was able to stop it. The one who was born in 1998 in Minsk finally won in 2023 in the Australian Open and she already knows the joy of lifting a Grand Slam trophy.

Where Is Aryna Sabalenka Now? (+ Her Cake Controversy Answered) 

On Jan 28th Aryna Sabalenka won the 2023 Australian Open:

Aryna Sabalenka wins her first Grand Slam title by beating Elena Rybakina during the women’s singles final on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2023. Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka reacts as she plays against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina during the women’s singles final on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2023. 

Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, 5th player in the world and seeded N.5, won the Australian Open in women’s singles for the first time in her career thanks to her victory against Kazakh Elena Rybakina (WTA 25/N. 22) in the final on Saturday in Melbourne. Sabalenka won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours and 28 minutes.

Sabalenka, 24, won the 12th title of her career, the second of the year after her victory in Adelaide. She offers herself a first Grand Slam title in singles. The Belarusian had won the double in Melbourne alongside Elise Mertens in 2021. Two years earlier, still with the Belgian, she had won the US Open. Sabalenka succeeds Australian Ashleigh Barty on the list.

Rybakina, 23, has three titles to her name, including a win at Wimbledon last year.

Sabalenka beats Swiatek on May 08, 2023:

In the final of the Madrid tournament,  Polish Iga Swiatek retains the lead in the WTA ranking published ahead of Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, but with a reduced lead over her runner-up who dominated her.  

Aryna Sabalenka holds the Madrid trophy on May 9th:

Aryna Sabalenka got her revenge on Iga Swiatek by beating the queen of clay 6-3, 3-6 and 6-3 in the Madrid final. It was a second consecutive final between the two best players in the world.  

It was the first time that Sabalenka got the better of Swiatek on clay. Their three previous duels on this surface had been won hands down by the world number one.

After her triumph, Sabalenka explained how she managed to overcome her rival on clay: “I stuck to the plan and I think that made the difference today. I didn’t rush things and waited for the right moment to use my power. I stuck to the plan from start to finish”. 

On the other hand, Swiatek said after the match, admitting that her opponent may have taken a little more risk than her that day: “There were a few shots I could have played better. She played a few risky shots. Maybe I could have been a little more proactive at times, but honestly I think we both played well. I have no regrets”. 

Among the players who stood out in Madrid, Veronika Kudermetova (12th ) played four consecutive three-set matches before falling in the semi-finals to Swiatek. In each of her victories, Maria Sakkari also reached the four aces before giving in to Sabalenka. 

Iga Swiatek said “We push each other” on May 10th:

Beaten by the Belarusian in the final in Madrid, Iga Swiatek is already planning with envy and determination on the tournament in Rome, where she presents herself as a double defending champion.

Iga Swiatek (seed number 1 in the Rome tournament) stated: “(Aryna) Sabalenka is one of the best players right now, it’s always difficult to face her. Before our matches, I always feel that it will be a challenge. But at each tournament, there is a long road before facing him. I don’t want to think about it too much. I’m just happy because we push each other. We play very good tennis, we are consistent, it shows the quality of women’s tennis today.

Sabalenka beaten to everyone’s surprise on May 11th: 

Crowned in Madrid by the end of April 2023 and expected at Roland-Garros, Aryna Sabalenka eliminated from entering Rome the Belarusian, world number 2, was eliminated as soon as she entered the second round on May 11, by the ex-finalist of Roland-Garros 2020, Sofia Kenin, who is today 134th in the world. 

Especially since she outclassed world number 1 Iga Swiatek in Madrid, it is an unexpected stoppage for Sabalenka, who was advancing as one of the favorites for the coronation at Roland-Garros (from May 28 to June 11). 

Fellow tennis star Caroline Garcia avoids the trap but she is not the only headliner to have already been dropped in Rome. Jessica Pegula, the current 3rd player in the WTA ranking, also gave in when she entered the fray, against Taylor Townsend (6-2, 3-6, 6-3).

On May 12th 2023 she said: “I’m exhausted”:

​​It was during her duel against Sofia Kenin, in the second round of the WTA 1000 in Rome, that Aryna Sabalenka seemed more than tired. Committing a lot of unforced errors, the Belarusian could not go the distance, especially as the American played her best game in a long time. 

After the loss of the very hung first set, Aryna then sank physically, only a few days after her title win on the WTA 1000 in Madrid against world number one, Iga Swiatek, in the final. 

At the end of this surprise defeat, Sabalenka quickly posted a message to justify her poor performance: “I am totally exhausted. I really need a rest. “ An undoubted example of what these athletes put their body through. 

She was Caroline Garcia’s surprise opponent in July 2022: 

During the Masters final beaten in pool by the Polish world number 1 (6-3, 6-2), the Frenchwoman, victorious in her semi-final by the same score against the Greek Maria Sakkari saw the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka create the surprise in the another part of the table by leaving the favorite designated to succeed the Spaniard Garbine Muguruza (6-2, 2-6, 6-1).

An opponent who was also the first surprise of this feat. “Every time I play against her, I just want to make sure I give her a hard time,” said Sabalenka, beaten in the previous four head-to-head meetings at Swiatek. “It is surely this state of mind that allowed me to reach such an incredible level tonight,” she added.

Faced with the seventh player in the world, Garcia then had a balanced record (two wins everywhere). But she will remember having beaten her on the road to her coronation in Cincinnati. “Aryna is a very powerful player, huge serve, huge forehand… She always shows a lot of emotion on the court, going for her shots. I will have to put pressure on her,” she said when exposed when qualifying her future opponent.

But, Aryna Sabalenka committed an outstanding 428 double faults:

Defeats are frequent in tennis, and it is better to learn to recover quickly. She committed a record number of double faults last year. The Belarusian, known as “the player who no longer knew how to serve”, solved her problem, which she believed to be mental and which was mechanical. 

The images of her distress, last year at the Adelaide tournament, where she chained 21 double faults before resolving, in tears, to finish the match by serving with a spoon, are now far away. This problem was solved by a modified service movement, the Belarusian only committed four against Belinda Bencic, including three at the start of the match, and left only one breakpoint for her opponent.

Because of this, even her coach Anton Dubrov wanted to leave in 2022: 

A novelty for a player known for her service failures, despite her tall height (1.82 m) and broad shoulders. During the 2022 season, Aryna Sabalenka committed a total of 440 double faults, 151 more than the second worst waitress, an average of eight double faults per game (55 games played, 33 wins for 22 losses).

The explanation that Aryna Sabalenka gave at a press conference to this change is very interesting. She was believed to be mentally weak because she served badly; it is in fact because it served badly that it weakened. “I did everything to change my serve. All. But for a long time I thought it was a mental problem and I was working on finding a release. The solution came when I realized that it was my gesture that was wrong. We looked for different solutions with a biomechanic, we remodeled my serve movement and from there, I started to find my level.

Other FAQs about Sabalenka:

Who is Aryna Sabalenka?

Aryna Syargeevna Sabalenka born in Minsk, May 5, 1998 is a Belarusian professional tennis player and the current number 2 in the WTA list. Her highest ranking in the individual competition is the 2nd position on the VTA list, which she recorded on August 23, 2021, and in the doubles competition, she had the best ranking on February 22, 2021, when she was in the 1st place on the VTA list. 

She is one of the few tennis players who have found their own place in the top 10 on the VTA list in singles and pairs. Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title in doubles competition at the US Open Tennis Championship (2019) with Belgian tennis player Elise Martens.

Who are Aryna Sabalenka’s parents?

Sabalenka was born on May 5, 1998 in the capital of Belarus, Minsk.

Her father was the former Belarusian hockey goalie Sergey Sabalenka who introduced her to tennis. As a little six-year-old girl, her father Sergej took her to the tennis court to play a tennis match, little Arina liked tennis and from that day Arina started to train tennis. On 29 November 2019, Sabalenka lost her biggest supporter in life, her father Sergei who died suddenly at the age of 44. On one occasion, Sabalenka stated that her father only wanted her to become number 1. She also has a younger sister, likes to spend her free time with her family, hanging out with friends, watching movies and reading. 

What are Aryna Sabalenka’s favorite hobbies?

Her favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo, and her movies: are Titanic, Home Alone, and Never Give Up. Her tennis role models as a child were Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. She loves tattoos as Sabalenka has a tiger tattoo on her left arm, which is why she was nicknamed the tiger. She studied at the Belarusian State University in a department related to sports.

What happened in the Aryna Sabalenka cake controversy?

The large cake dedicated to Carlos Alcaraz to celebrate his 20th birthday has been criticized and has been the subject of numerous complaints thanks to his splendid victory against Borna Coric. The success against the Croatian allowed the Spaniard to play for the second consecutive year in the final of the Masters 1000 in Madrid. The organizers of the Madrid tournament, led by Feliciano Lopez, organized a special surprise in Alcaraz after the game. 

A two-tiered cake was indeed brought directly to the Manolo Santana stadium. Alcaraz was thus able to blow out the candles in the tournament at home and in the company of his family. 

The reason is the contemporary birthday of Open Mutua Madrid finalist Aryna Sabalenka, who on the other hand had received inferior treatment in terms of dessert size, and set the web ablaze after reacting to a tweet comparing the two cakes. The situation has not gone unnoticed and does not only concern the two players whose birthday was on May 5. Indeed, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka joined in these complaints, noting that there has been a difference in treatment between athletes. Feliciano Lopez, director of the 1000 tournament, took charge of extinguishing any controversy and clarifying certain aspects, stressing in a message on social media: “I am surprised by this reaction after this gesture. Carlos had just won his match to reach the final. He was playing on center court. The tournament is held in Spain, although it is an international event. I hope Rune wasn’t upset with the treatment either!” I’m surprised by this reaction after this gesture!

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