Sabalenka: I'll come back stronger

The No.2 seed has seen better days, but vows to take positives from her semi-final run in Paris

Aryna Sabalenka, Roland-Garros 2023, semi-final© Julien Crosnier/FFT
 - Chris Oddo

She sat down at the podium, took a sigh, and started to break down one of the most difficult losses of her tennis career.

The life of a professional tennis player can be overwhelming at times, and on Thursday in Paris, it was Aryna Sabalenka's turn to go through the ringer.

After squandering a match point, and dropping 20 of the final 24 points to Karolina Muchova during her 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5 semi-final loss, the world No.2 was ready to make peace with her effort.

"I'll come back stronger," she told reporters. "It's a tough match, but I had so many opportunities, but still, I would like to look at this tournament as a positive tournament."

Finding the positives

Though the loss, which denied Sabalenka a chance to play for the No.1 ranking and her second major title in Saturday's final, was tough to stomach, the 25-year-old is ready to embrace the challenge of overcoming it.

"Of course you're always facing some challenges, and I definitely have to learn something from this match and come back stronger," she reiterated.

Sabalenka, who entered Thursday's tussle with the Czech riding a 12-match winning streak at the Grand Slams, says she is emboldened by her performance at Roland-Garros this year, and believes that her first trip to the semi-final on the Parisian clay bodes well for her future on the terre battue.

Karolina Muchova, Aryna Sabalenka, Roland-Garros 2023, semi-final© Julien Crosnier/FFT

It has been a season of forward progress, and she doesn't intend to let one step backward slow her momentum.

"I think what I [have been] doing - and hopefully I will keep doing it this season - that's incredible, just next level," she said, referring to winning her first major and compiling a 34-6 record in 2023, including three titles. "I don't look at this tournament as a negative tournament. I think I did great improvement on the clay courts, and it's my best result here."

To Sabalenka, the fact that she was one point from reaching her second consecutive major final is a sign that she's right where she needs to be.

The challenge now? To stay positive and keep responding to the challenges that come her way. Something she knows a thing or two about, after rebounding from a trying 2022 season to come within a whisker of the No.1 ranking this week.

"Right now I'm trying to stay positive no matter what happened on court," she said.

Aryna Sabalenka, Roland-Garros 2023, semi-final© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Set for a Wimbledon return

Sabalenka had been experiencing some issues getting an entry visa for the UK to participate in the grass season, but she told reporters that it is behind her now. She is set to take her place in the Wimbledon draw for the first time since 2021, when she reached the semi-final.

"Now I have visa, woohoo!" she said. "I can celebrate. I'm coming to Wimbledon, which is great news.

"I'm super excited. I really like to play there. I really enjoy the atmosphere. I really missed last year Wimbledon, and just can't wait to come back and show my best tennis."