Sabalenka's US Open Loss To Gauff Made Her Realize She Needs 'Plan B' Says Petkovic

Sabalenka's US Open Loss To Gauff Made Her Realize She Needs 'Plan B' Says Petkovic

by Nurein Ahmed

Aryna Sabalenka was a huge favorite to win the 2023 US Open final last September but squandered her opportunity, which was taken by Coco Gauff.

Sabalenka fell to the 19-year-old American in three sets and was visibly frustrated after the match. But the loss only served as a motivation for the woman from Minsk, who got back to the drawing board and tried to learn another move to outmaneuver her opponents.

They always say you learn more in defeats than victories. And according to retired WTA player Andrea Petkovic, who interviewed Sabalenka following her Australian Open win in January, defeat in the US Open final was probably the best thing that could have happened for Sabalenka.

In a recent episode on the Inside-In podcast, Petkovic narrates how Sabalenka shared an interesting insight into developing a "plan B". The World No. 2 is famous for being a destructive ball striker but is notoriously one-dimensional with her game plan.

As such, Sabalenka was able to add to her game during the off-season in order to get better. There was the use of slices and net approaches to catch her opponents off guard. The 25-year-old also improved her attacking firebrand tennis with clever use of angles.

"I honestly think that loss against Coco Gauff in the US Open final was the best thing that happened to her [Sabalenka] because I had the chance to interview her right after she won the Australian Open. I asked her 'Aryna, you look much more like an all-court player. What happened in the off-season, like what was your thought process?"

"She said, 'You know what, when I lost to Coco, I realized I need a B plan. I was hitting the ball well. I was playing well, but Coco was getting everything back and I just at one point didn't know how to win a point anymore or how to make a winner. So, I was working on my net game. I was working on more variety'."

Sabalenka will be pursuing her second title of the season at the 2024 Indian Wells Open, which begins on March 6th. She is the second seed and one of the favorites for the crown.


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