It looked like Sabalenka met her match in Keys, whose ferocious and piercing groundstrokes gave the Belarusian very little room to dictate proceedings. The American dominated three-thirds of the first two sets, thumping Sabalenka 6-0 in the opening stanza and getting an early break in the second set.
At that point, a visibly exasperated Aryna Sabalenka lost her composure and calmness and could be seen yelling and screaming in the direction of Anton Dubrov, her compatriot and coach. Being 0-6, 1-2 down, she slammed her racket in frustration and tried to throw it to the stands.
But Sabalenka was liberated from that moment on and became looser. Her offense was uncharacteristic in the early phase of the match, but she began to arrow her shots inside the court. Keys was foiled in her attempt to serve for the match at 6-0, 5-3 up, and Sabalenka turned the match on its head to win 0-6, 7-6, 7-6.
In a Q&A session on her Instagram account, a fan posed the question to the newly-minted World No. 1 on her actions towards her team from that match. Sabalenka was quick to explain that there was no love lost and agreed with her team beforehand to expunge her emotion if she needed to and would need to play better.
"I wasn't, we spoke before and we agreed that If I need to let out I can do it, nothing personal."
It was an interactive session whereby Sabalenka also delved into the question about her mental resilience. Despite losing the US Open final to American teenager Coco Gauff, Sabalenka opined that losing is part of learning, and it is the only realistic way of growing as a professional player.
"We are not losing! We are learning!! It's also part of the process, this is how we grow and how we get stronger."