In what might be termed a consolation prize after a disappointing defeat at the hands of Coco Gauff in the final of the US Open 2023, Aryna Sabalenka took the World No. 1 title in the WTA Singles rankings for the first time in her career on Monday.
Heading into the tournament, the No. 2 seed, Aryna Sabalenka, had to match or better Iga Swiatek’s performance to clinch the World No. 1 title. She was guaranteed the spot after Swiatek suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round of the US Open 2023.
Sabalenka became the 29th player to be ranked No. 1 in the world on the WTA Tour and the second Belarusian after Victoria Azarenka. She has also held the no. 1 spot in the doubles ranking since she won the 2021 Australian Openalongside Elise Mertens. Subsequently, she is also the eighth World No. 1 in the WTA Rankings in both singles and doubles after Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the Williams sisters, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, and Kim Clijsters.
The 25-year-old Belarusian talked to WTA insider Courtney Nguyen about her rise to the top of tennis. Sabalenka said that she started eyeing the No. 1 spot after winning the Australian Open earlier this year. She further explained that the fight for the No. 1 spot got to her head at the French Open, affecting her performances.
“I think at the French Open. It went into my head and I let this thing distract me. It was a little bit painful, to be honest. I was really pissed after the match because, for me, it was kind of like going back to the old habits and not focusing on myself. I was focusing on the rest of the things, which are, honestly, not really important. So I had some chances there,” Sabalenka said.
The world No.1 felt that she faced similar problems at Wimbledon earlier this year. “I had some chances at Wimbledon. But Wimbledon, I didn’t really think about that. I also went back to the old habits where I’m getting upset after losing my serve. I think that was the key and the answer to why I lost that match against Ons. Definitely, she played really unbelievable tennis, but to be honest, I kind of gave her this opportunity,” she added.
Aryna Sabalenka talks about the challenges of holding the world no.1spot
Sabalenka was wary of the buzz and the pressure that the world no.1 title brings after her quarter-final win at the US Open.“But I have some things still to do in New York this year and I’ll think about becoming No. 1 after the US Open,” she said in the on-court interview.
Talking to the WTA insider, Sabalenka spoke about the difference between being World No. 2 and World No. 1. “As World No. 2, you’re chasing. As World No. 1, you’re kind of trying to run away from someone who is chasing you. It’s a different kind of tiger,” she explained. She further said that she would rather think of it as chasing her goals rather than trying to run away from somebody (chasing the No. 1 spot).
Talking about the consistency needed to reach the top spot, Sabalenka said that it hadn’t been hard for her to find consistency. Sabalenka became the only active women’s player to reach the semifinals at all four majors in one year. The last player to achieve a similar feat was Serena Williams in 2016.
Angira Shah is the Content Writer for the Tennis department at FirstSportz. Studying BE Computer Science at BITS Pilani Hyderabad campus, this is his first experience of the content writing world.
Angira's favorite part of the game is the opportunity to play. Therefore, he took the opportunity offered by FirstSportz to materialise his interest in the game of Tennis. He's a huge FC Barcelona, Messi and Nadal fan.
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