Sabalenka to CGTN: Playing doubles helps me find confidence on court
Updated 22:35, 01-Oct-2019
Sports Scene

Aryna Sabalenka is headed to Beijing after winning her second straight trophy in Wuhan, where she clearly enjoys playing. And that marks another singles success in a season which has also seen her make a huge impact with a first Grand Slam title in doubles. The Belarusian sat down with CGTN Sports Scene to discuss topics like breaking through at the US Open and her fondness for new cultural experiences in the latest episode of Beyond The Baseline.  

"It was tough and interesting at the same time as every time you step into the court. Well, last year you showed your best and you won the title. This thought really helped to show my best tennis in Wuhan, to fight here and enjoy," Sabalenka told CGTN.

She also gave credit to the local fans and said: "Fans help me to play here and support me like nowhere else. It helps me a lot.”

Winning the Wuhan Open last year helped Sabalenka win the WTA Newcomer of the Year award and she acknowledged that success in the Chinese city. "It was impressive and this year I had a lot of expectations and was under a lot of pressure."

Incidentally, she paired up with Elise Mertens to win the women's doubles title at this year's US Open. While speaking about her significant success in doubles, Sabalenka remarked: "This year was more about doubles so far. It's really great to play with Elise. Doubles helps me to find confidence on the court. It's really helpful for me and I am really looking forward to the next matches in both singles and doubles. I am just kind of enjoying my time on the court and my time at the tournament. So doubles really helps me.”

Her doubles victory at Flushing Meadows came as a big leap to her promising career and the Belarussian sounded upbeat while sharing her US Open experience. 

Elise Mertens (L) of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka (R) of Belarus pose with the trophy after winning their Women's Double's final match at the US Open, September 8, 2019 in New York, USA. /VCG Photo

Elise Mertens (L) of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka (R) of Belarus pose with the trophy after winning their Women's Double's final match at the US Open, September 8, 2019 in New York, USA. /VCG Photo

"It was earlier in the year when we felt that we could win a Grand Slam, especially after Sunshine doubles win. We started believing in ourselves even more after making it to the semifinals at Roland Garros and quarterfinal at Wimbledon. At the US Open we just came like thinking that it doesn't matter whatever will happen and we will just enjoy our time on the court. We will try to do our best. We just kept focusing match by match and it was always nice to be there and stepping onto the court," she said.   

Sabalenka also played a key role in helping her country Belarus qualify for the Fed Cup final in 2017. Even though the Soviet country went down against USA in the final, it helped tennis grow in her motherland. "After we made it to the Fed Cup final, more kids are getting interested in tennis. It's getting more popular. It was popular before but after the Fed Cup final people started believe that they can do well in this sport and it’s bringing more kids. Right now, the situation of tennis in Belarus looks much better than before. Hopefully more tennis players from the country will be coming in the upcoming years," she recounted.

Interestingly, a latest photo of Sabalenka in a kung fu pose went quite viral.  "I have been to Zhengzhou and there is one of the biggest kung fu schools in China. They just brought me there and we watched some kung fu shows over there. I just wanted to take some kung fu pictures and it went viral. It was really nice to be there and experiencing something different. May be next time I will try to do kung fu. I am sure it's very tough," she said.