Aryna Sabalenka says she will be stronger after French Open loss, furor | Inquirer Sports

Aryna Sabalenka says she will be stronger after French Open loss, furor

/ 03:16 PM June 09, 2023

Aryna Sabalenka french open belarus

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 8, 2023 Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka reacts during her semi final match against Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

PARIS— World number two Aryna Sabalenka was left to rue missed chances in her French Open semi-final loss to Czech Karolina Muchova on Thursday but said she would come out of the tournament tougher.

The Belarusian, this year’s Australian Open champion, had a far from ideal start to the tournament, facing questions on her country’s support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She skipped two post-match press conferences as she initially refused to condemn the war before easing media tension a few days later by expressing her opposition to it and to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

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“I felt bad emotionally after one press conference,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep. But the only thing I can do well in this life is play tennis, so I try to focus on things I could control and I could do.

“So there wasn’t any moment when I was, like, I don’t want to play tennis. That’s the only thing I do well in life and I have some control.

“I think I’m really exhausted right now. But I think it’s only because I lost this match. It’s been great couple of weeks with some emotional challenges, but I think I get through it. I think I’ll be stronger.”

With the media storm behind her, Sabalenka went into the semi-final against Muchova knowing that winning the title would put her top of the world rankings for the first time.

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She missed a match point on her opponent’s serve at 5-2 in the third set and then her own serve collapsed as the Czech raced through five consecutive games.

“I think after I lost my serve (at 5-3),” she said when asked when the match slipped out of her hands.

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“I was serving for the match, so I think after that game she kind of stepped in and started playing a little bit more aggressive. I kind of lost my rhythm. I wasn’t there,” she said.

“I don’t look at this tournament as a negative tournament. I think I did great improvement on the clay court, and it’s my best result here.”

Sabalenka, who missed Wimbledon last year because of a ban on Russian and Belarusian players following the invasion, said she was happy to have a visa to play there in July.

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“Yes, now I have visa. Woo-hoo. I can celebrate. I’m coming to Wimbledon, which is great news,” she said.

TAGS: Aryna Sabalenka, French Open, Grand Slam, Karolina Muchova

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