Kasatkina giggles when she’s asked if she finds Sabalenka’s career arc inspiring, noting how it’s tricky to make such public admissions about a fellow competitor, but she acknowledged how all players have been pushing each other to reach new heights.
“In this way, I have to say thanks to Anett (Kontaveit), for example, because we are friends, so I can say it. She was No.2, top 10 last year, this thing pushed me a lot because I wanted that as well. I was like, ‘it’s not that far’,” said Kasatkina.
“Because it’s one thing when you are upcoming, young, and you see Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep and Serena Williams at the top, you think it’s way too far, they are too good. But when you see the players you were growing up together, who you were competing shoulder to shoulder, or even beating them, and then you see them winning big titles or being good in the ranking, you think actually it’s not that far, maybe I can do it. This is how it works.”
The dynamic on the WTA tour changes ever so rapidly. It wasn’t too long ago when it felt like the women’s game followed an ‘Iga Swiatek vs Rest of the Field’ narrative. The reigning Roland-Garros and US Open champion seemed unstoppable and has built up a healthy lead at the top of the world rankings, finishing 2022 with more points than the world’s No.2 and No.3 combined.