“It’s me against me, I’m still having these issues playing against myself”

Aryna Sabalenka has stated she is mostly to blame for her defeat in the 2023 US Open final to Coco Gauff.

On Saturday, September 9, Sabalenka went down to Coco Gauff in the title match at the New York Major. After winning the first set in a dominant fashion, she couldn’t stop the American from making a comeback in the match and winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

At her post-match press conference, Sabalenka was asked for her thoughts on how she went from having a tight grasp on the contest to losing the plot as the match progressed. In reply, the Belarusian stated that she managed to handle herself well in the first set, but began to overthink things after that.

“I will say that in the first set I was dealing with my emotions quite good. I was focused on myself, not on the crowd or the way she move. Yeah, definitely she was moving just unbelievable today,” she said.

“But then the second set I start probably overthinking, and because of that I start kind of like losing my power. Then she start moving better. I start missing a lot of easy shots. The good news is that it’s me against me. The bad one is that I’m still having these issues playing against myself, I would say,” she added, with a smile.

Sabalenka, who will soon-to-be-crowned World No. 1, vowed to work harder and come back stronger.

“But it’s okay. I’ll work harder so next time I’m not going to get even a little bit tired on court, and so I’ll be better, yeah,” she expressed.

“I kind of expected this” – Aryna Sabalenka on facing home favorite Coco Gauff in US Open 2023 final

Coco Gauff is the 2023 US Open champion.
Coco Gauff is the 2023 US Open champion.

Coco Gauff went into the 2023 US Open final as the fan favorite to win the title, considering she was competing on home soil. She leaned on the crowd when the going got tough and used their support and energy to bounce back in the match after going a set down.

Aryna Sabalenka stated that she expected the fans to support Gauff and played down the idea that she was playing against not just the 19-year-old but also the several thousand people seated in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Well, I wouldn’t say that I was playing against the crowd. I got a lot of support messages from people, from here, from New York, so I knew that they — I mean, how can they support me more than her? Of course they’re going to support her. She’s 19 years old, playing the final of a Grand Slam. That’s just unbelievable. She actually made history. I kind of, like, expected this. I mean, I didn’t play against them,” she said.

“I would say that sometimes this kind of, like, support can put a lot of pressure on the player whom they are supporting. And it’s kind of like it was pressure on her in the beginning. It’s just me, I didn’t finish important points, meaning, like, I made these unforced errors there. Yeah, of course I gave them the energy. They start to be louder. She start to feeling a little bit better on court, so yeah,” she added.

Despite the result not going her way, Sabalenka can take solace in the fact that she will displace Iga Swiatek as the World No. 1 come Monday, September 11.

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