Aryna Sabalenka made comical reference to the high number of double-faults she has been guilty of this year, during her runner-up speech at the WTA Finals.
Double-faults have been an unwanted recurring theme for Sabalenka this season. It was again a factor in her loss to Caroline Garcia in the championship match of the WTA Finals last night, when the Belarusian dumped her second serve into the net to hand the opening set to her opponent, following a tight opening to the match.
Speaking after eventually losing 7-6 (7-4) 6-4, Sabalenka claimed that it was her team who were to blame for this deficiency, before making it clear to all that she was indeed joking.
"I’m not going to say thank you to my team because it’s so many double faults, you guys are such a bad team - no, no, no, I’m joking,” the Belarusian said in her runner-up speech.
"It’s been a challenging year for us. Thank you so much for your support," she added.
It was an unfortunate end to an opening set of such high quality from both players. But the weakness on the second serve came back to haunt Sabalenka at the most crucial moment in the set, when serving during the tie-break at set point to Garcia.
Sabalenka made reference to this in her post-match press conference, "I just dropped my level for a little bit," she conceded, adding, "On the tiebreak and the first game of the second set. That’s it. I did my best, [but] she played unbelievable tennis."
Nevertheless, the US Open semi-finalist was able to embrace the humorous side of things and look ahead to what she hopes will be a positive 2023. Given that she beat Iga Swiatek in her previous match, some cause for optimism at the end of a tough season is certainly justified.