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Sabalenka determined not to be distracted by possibility of No 1 ranking

The Australian Open champion will overtake Iga Swiatek if the Pole does not make the semi-finals at least

Aryna Sabalenka, Roland-Garros 2023 Aryna Sabalenka, Roland-Garros 2023 – © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Aryna Sabalenka says she’s trying not to think about becoming world No 1 for the first time for fear it will derail her chances at Roland-Garros.

The Belarusian, who won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, is seeded No 2 in Paris and believes she’s better equipped than ever to win on clay.

Should defending champion Iga Swiatek fail to reach the semi-finals in Paris, Sabalenka would become No 1 for the first time. But she’s trying to shut that possibility out of her mind.

“I’m not focusing on that,” she told reporters at Roland-Garros on Friday. “Because every time I’m focusing on something like that, like points, ranking, results, and I’m not playing my best. So I’m trying to focus on myself, on my game, and make sure I bring my best tennis and then we will see after these couple of weeks what gonna happen.”

Sabalenka said she feels she’s ready to be No 1, though. “I think yes, I think so. I think I improved a lot, and I have everything to be No 1. But again, I don’t want to focus on that. I just want to focus on my game, and I just want to bring my best game every time on the court, and after the season we’ll see if I’m ready or not.”

Sabalenka: “Physically I’m stronger and I’m calm on court”

Sabalenka won the title in Madrid, beating Swiatek in the final, revenge for her defeat by the Pole in Stuttgart. And despite a first-up loss in Rome, she says she’ll go into Paris better prepared than in the past.

“The last years wasn’t really good for me here at Roland-Garros,” she said. “It’s an extra motivation for me to do better.

“I think physically I’m stronger, so I’m able to move better on clay and I’m not rushing things and I’m calm on court. So a lot of things I improved, I would say, since last year, so that’s why it makes me better player on clay.

“Results here wasn’t good enough last years. I’m gonna do everything I can to improve it.”

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