Sabalenka excited for fans to see her Netflix episode

 - Simon Cambers

World No.2 moves into Roland-Garros third round with win over Shymanovich

Aryna Sabalenka, 2e tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

When Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open in January, a monkey was lifted from her shoulders, the achievement of a lifetime giving her understandable satisfaction.

But a first Grand Slam title, after many years of chasing a dream, also brought her something extra; calmness.

Second seed Sabalenka came through a tough encounter at a sunny, breezy Roland-Garros on Wednesday, beating qualifier Iryna Shymanovich 7-5, 6-2 to advance to a third round meeting with Kamilla Rakhimova.

“It's still the same,” she told reporters at Roland-Garros, when asked how winning that first Slam had changed her.

“You still want to do well and you get nervous a little bit sometimes. So it's the same. The only one difference is that you are able to stay calm and to just think clear and just to do your best and try your best no matter what.”

Staying calm on the court has not been easy at times for Sabalenka, who wears her heart on her sleeve, occasionally to her own detriment, her temper sometimes getting in the way of her tennis.

But winning in Australia has taken away that pressure to win a first major and on Wednesday she was delighted with the way she held firm in a tight first set and then pulled away for victory in the second.

“I’m super happy to get this win,” she said. “I think the first set I didn't play my best, and I'm super happy that no matter what I was able to stay calm and I was able to fight for every point to get this win.”

Sabalenka’s smile is almost as well known as her tennis, the 25-year-old breaking into a giggle after most answers in press conferences or interviews.

Fans will be able to see more of Sabalenka, off the court, through her appearances in Break Point, the Netflix series that goes behind the scenes on the tennis tour.

The experience of cameras following her is not a new one, but Sabalenka said she was initially worried because she had not been playing well at the time when her episodes were filmed.

Aryna Sabalenka, 2e tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“Actually, when they started following me, it wasn't the best season in my life,” she said. “I was thinking, like, okay, what are people going to see, a lot of drama in that episode.

“Then, I saw a little bit of my episode, and I think it's going to be interesting for people to get to know me, to get to know my story and how tough it is to face such interesting challenges and how we're dealing with a lot of things and how a lot of things affect us. So I think it's going to be interesting to see me from another side.

“I'm always positive. I'm smiling a lot. At the same time on the court I'm very aggressive, but there is also a small part of Aryna who can be a little over-worried about things, so it's going to be interesting.

“I'm nervous about (my) episode and how people are going to react. I hope they will like it, and I hope they will understand a little bit better.”