Aryna Sabalenka said she stopped consulting a psychologist in preseason and took the mental aspect of her game into her own hands, reaping immediate rewards with a title in Adelaide and a spot in the Australian Open final.
The Belarusian fifth seed had lost her three previous Grand Slam semi-finals but downed Poland’s Magda Linette 7-6(1), 6-2 at Melbourne Park on Thursday to set up an intriguing title clash with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
The victory extended Sabalenka’s winning streak to 10 straight matches in 2023 without dropping a set, a run that followed a big decision before the start of the new season.
“To be honest I decided to stop working with a psychologist. I realized that nobody [other] than me will help me,” Sabalenka told reporters.
“In preseason, I spoke to my psychologist saying ‘Listen, I feel I have to deal with that by myself,’ because every time I’m hoping that someone will fix my problem, it’s not fixing it.
“I just have to take this responsibility and I just have to deal with that. Yeah … I’m my [own] psychologist.”
The 24-year-old said she was also dealing with the rigours of being a professional athlete in the absence of a psychologist by speaking more with those closest to her.
“I talk a lot with my team. Also with my family,” Sabalenka added. “I think I know myself quite well. I know how to handle my emotions.”
Sabalenka said earlier in the tournament that she needed to be a bit more “boring” on the court to be a more effective player.
“Yeah, I was trying to scream less after some bad points or some errors. I was just trying to hold myself, stay calm, just think about the next point,” she added.
“Actually, I’m not that boring, I think. I’m still screaming ‘come on’ and all that stuff. I don’t think it’s that boring to watch me. I hope so.
“Just less negative emotions.”