'No Extra Pressure, Nothing Changed': Sabalenka On Playing First Match As World No. 1

'No Extra Pressure, Nothing Changed': Sabalenka On Playing First Match As World No. 1

by Sebastian Dahlman

Aryna Sabalenka played her first match as the world number one and did really well, smashing Sofia Kenin in two sets at the 2023 China Open in Beijing.

Aryna Sabalenka went missing after the US Open, resting up following a very good run that unfortunately ended painfully with the loss in the final. The Belarusian became number one on the WTA Tour thanks to her run in New York, and the China Open is her first tennis event as the reigning world number one.

She faced a tricky opponent in Sofia Kenin but, as we predicted in our preview, didn't really have any issues. The conditions play exceptionally well for her tennis style, which she demonstrated with her level in the match against Kenin.

She spoke after the match about playing as the world number one and explained that she didn't really feel any different. It makes sense because tennis is ultimately tennis, and ranking has very little to do with it. At least with the games itself, the pressure and expectations do change slightly.

Honestly, no different. Like, as I said before, it's great to achieve this goal, but it's not something I'm really thinking about. I know that if I'm going to bring my tennis, if I'm going to play my best, if I'm going to fight for it, I'm going to stay there. So I feel like I don't have to focus on the ranking. There is no extra pressure. Nothing changed, honestly. I was No. 2, and now I'm No. 1. Not a big difference.

Sabalenka on playing number one

We'll see how she performs as the event goes on and she starts to play better players. It shouldn't matter much because she would have been favoured against most of them regardless of her ranking being number one or two.

The expectations are to win so that's not entirely different either.


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