Moving into her third Top-20 season, 2020 is bound to be another exciting year for the World Number 13; Aryna Sabalenka. During her stay at Imagine Marco for the Australian Open, Aryna took the time to chat to us about her recent off-season, her goals for this year and what she does to stay on her a-game while travelling.
How did you spend your most recent off-season?
I was training in my hometown of Minsk, Belarus. I also spent as much time as I could with family and friends.
After winning WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2018; 2019 was another successful year for you - breaking into the top ten and winning your first Grand Slam for the Doubles at the US Open are tremendous achievements. Your game continues to get better and, even amongst family tragedy, you are steadily improving. What are your goals for the upcoming season?
I think that we all have the goal to head into the first Grand Slam of the year and win it! However, I need to continue to focus and concentrate on each match – ensuring I do everything I can on the court.
You’re now a regular in the knockout stages of Doubles competition, and I’m sure you’re hoping that translates into the Singles as well - especially at Grand Slams. What is the most challenging thing about switching from Singles to Doubles at a tournament?
The main difference is the speed of doubles. Because more players are on the court, you’re having to navigate more reactions than you do in singles. It’s so fast!
Did you ever want to follow in your father’s footsteps and become a hockey player when you were growing up or was tennis your calling?
Personally I feel like hockey is more of a man’s game – that may be because I grew up knowing it was what my dad did. Also, from the first moment he took me to play tennis, I loved it. Started at 6 [years old] and never looked back.
You’ve previously said that Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were your idols growing up, what about their game inspired you?
I love how aggressively they play and that they dominate most of the time.
You’ve come up against Australia’s own Ash Barty in your career - what can you say about her game?
Ash is a great player; she can do everything on the court. My main comments are that she is a varied player with a strong serving game. It’s a challenge to play against her, but I love a challenge!
Being an athlete has its highs and lows, how do you handle defeat when it happens?
Well, defeat is always tough. I think what makes tennis so great is that we have tournaments every week – so there are always more chances to improve and play your best game… and then beat it.
Tennis seasons can be long and intense, what do you do to look after your body for both prep and recovery?
Stretching, ice baths, massages and good sleep is what helps me feel ready to play and stay at my best.
As a professional athlete you are travelling constantly, what would you say are your absolute MUSTS regarding travel and accommodation while away?
A great hotel is important! We need to feel at home while we are away. Thank you for taking care of me at Imagine Marco – it feels really good to be here.
Is there something specific you look for in accommodation to assist you during your travels?
Personally, I like to feel free in my accommodation, so I enjoy big rooms with nice beds. I don’t want to wake up feeling tightness through my body because of the bed – so again, thank you for having such great rooms and beds here at Marco!
Thank you for spending time with me Aryna – it was great to get to know you a little better. We love that you chose to stay with us here at Imagine Hotels & Resorts during your Melbourne stay for the Australian Open. The entire Imagine team wish you well for the rest of the 2020 season and beyond.
Words: Emily Steckelbruck, Marketing Manager for Imagine Hotels & Resorts