Thursday May 12, 2022

World No. 8 Aryna Sabalenka says she feels her 2022 season started when the clay season kicked off. Sabalenka, a former world No. 2, struggled mightily with her form and results in the first three months of the season. When the clay season began, Sabalenka found her game in Stuttgart and reached her first final of the year.

Unfortunately for Sabalenka, she didn’t have an answer for Iga Swiatek in the Stuttgart final. Sabalenka got beaten in the Madrid opener but this week kicked off her Rome campaign with a 6-2 6-0 win over Shuai Zhang.

“Honestly, I feel my season just started with the clay-court season because in the beginning of the season I was struggling with a lot of things,” Sabalenka said, per the WTA Tour website. “I couldn’t serve, I couldn’t play, I didn’t feel well on court.

I started working extra hard. From the clay-court tournaments, I started to play better. I’m feeling better and I found my fighting spirit again.”

Sabalenka on dominating Zhang

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Sabalenka got off to a fast start, breaking Zhang in the opening game of the match.

In the fifth game, Sabalenka broke Zhang again to open a comfortable 4-1 lead. Sabalenka then held on to her serve the rest of the set to easily win the opener. Sabalenka easily won the first set but was even more dominant in the second set as she broke Zhang three times to complete a straight-set win.

Sabalenka was absolutely dominant throughout the entire match as she broke Zhang five, all while not facing a single break point. “I think I was focused from the beginning to the end. After my tough loss in the first loss in Madrid, I didn’t want to do bad here. That’s why I was really focused from the beginning. I felt everything was going well for me,” Sabalenka noted.

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