Madrid, May 3
Aryna Sabalenka said her experience playing at the top level of women’s tennis was key to helping her pull through difficult matches after the world number two fought back from a set down to beat unseeded Egyptian Mayar Sherif at the Madrid Open.
Sabalenka, who stopped consulting a psychologist in pre-season and took the mental aspect of her game into her own hands, said that earlier in her career she lacked the composure to win matches that were not going her way.
“I’d get crazy and I would keep screaming, keep throwing the racket probably and keep giving her so many chances to win,” the Belarusian, who won the quarter-final 2-6 6-2 6-1, told reporters.
Sabalenka, who won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open this year, said the top players were able to take their opportunities by staying focused while younger players tended to overthink things.
“You can play with more passion. You’re not going over-crazy about things. When you see an opportunity, you take it,” she added.
“As a top player, you understand … you’re calmer and understand things better. So I prefer to be a top player going to the third set.” World number 59 Sherif will return to the top 50 next Monday after becoming the first Egyptian to reach the quarter-final of a WTA 1000 tournament.