‘Stopped Thinking Too Much’: Aryna Sabalenka Reflects on Tricky R1 Win at Australian Open 2022

Published 01/18/2022, 8:18 AM EST

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World No. 2 player Aryna Sabalenka was up against local player Storm Sanders in the opening round of the Australian Open 2022. She survived a scare but managed to win the match after a hard-fought battle, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

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During the opening stages of the match, both players were broken during their initial service games. Additionally, there were seven breaks of service games shared amongst the two in the first set itself.  

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Aryna Sabalenka under pressure after the first set debacle

In the end, it was Sabalenka who lost the set 7-5. Both players struggled to hold serve in the set; Sabalenka’s troubles with the serve were foreshadowed by an abysmal serving performance she had during a match in the build up to the Grand Slam. 

Eventually, it was the Australian who managed to maintain composure during the crunch points of the set. After 48 minutes into the match, it was Sanders who drew first blood. 

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In the following set, Aryna opened proceedings. This time, she managed to hold serve in the opening game. However, the Australian player sensed an opportunity and broke the World No. 2 player in the third game. 

Interestingly, in the sixth game, Sabalenka finally got the much-needed break and leveled things up at 3-3. She grew in confidence and managed to break her opponent once again, to claim the second set 6-3.

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Experience came in handy for the Belarusian

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As the winner of the match had to be decided by playing the third and final set, it was the World No. 2 who was riding with the momentum. She managed to break Sanders in the first game of the set. It seemed the end of the road for the Australian as she was broken in consecutive games. In the end, it was Sabalenka who won the final set 6-2. 

After that match, Aryna stated, “The start of the season was not great for me, but really happy I got this win,” she said. “I stopped thinking too much and just tried to play tennis… She was a tough opponent and I’m really happy I won today.” She even acknowledged that the crowd favored the Australian contestant, but thanked the few voices shouting in her support. 

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She will now be up against China’s Wang Xinyu. It should be an interesting encounter and we wish both players the best of luck for the remainder of the tournament. 

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Written by:

Rohan Kollare

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Rohan Kollare is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Rohan has studied Sports Management and has a trophy cabinet adorned with accolades won in district and state-level tennis competitions. He has previously worked in Content Operations for Disney’s Hotstar for over a year, covering Tennis and Formula One.
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