Dinara Safina praised Aryna Sabalenka when she spoke about the Belarusian's latest triumph at the 2024 Australian Open.
Last year's Australian Open was the most important event in Sabalenka's career so far. She finally broke through in a major way, winning her maiden Grand Slam, and everything changed after that.
She became a more confident player and unlocked a new level of play and consistency. She didn't add another major last year, but she added another one this year.
It happened in Australia again, and it was relatively recently. Former WTA player Dinara Safina was amazed and described to the Tennis Channel how she saw everything from last year to this year.
"It’s really unbelievable. I have huge respect for her that she didn’t listen to outside voices and stuck with her team through the tough times."
"The way she handled herself speaks to her strength of character, how loyal she is to her team. If something has gone wrong, she takes the responsibility. She doesn’t blame others and I think the way she treats people shows that she has a very big heart."
Becoming this version of herself didn't happen overnight. It was a gradual process that happened over a long period of time, though with positive reinforcement. She played well, got the results, and felt confident because of it. Safina also thinks that Sabalenka changed as a person.
"I think she changed as a person. She has found a balance where she is happy inside and isn’t struggling emotionally. Even if she loses a match, she’s still smiling and not taking it personal."
"She’s able to understand that she can have a bad day and still give 100% the next match. It’s not killing her from the inside."
"There will always be people in your career telling you that you’re doing the wrong thing. In the end, you start doubting yourself, and this is the worst thing. I was looking at her, and wondering how she would respond to that kind of doubt."