June 3, 2023

The season may have been a cry until you laugh type of campaign for Sabalenka, who pumped in 398 double-faults, many of them at the worst possible time, but there is a shining theme: perseverance.

The former World No.2 still – rather impressively – managed to overcome and remain in the top-10.

Next week she’ll take her place in the WTA Finals draw, as one of the elite player on tour. The second serve may not be elite, but everything else about her is… (including that sense of self-deprecating humor)

Sabalenka says that her performance this season, despite obvious obstacles, has been “incredible” to her.

“It’s actually really crazy the start of the season I had,” she said in her pre-tournament press conference at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth. “I still was in the top 10 even with all those tough losses. But I really think that overall all the top players just dropped a little bit at the beginning of the season, and that’s why I didn’t drop so much.”

Sabalenka says that the clay season actually helped lay the foundation for a strong finish in 2022.

“In the clay season I kind of found myself and started playing a little bit better,” she said. “I think I just got all my points from that clay court season, then some of them at the US Open.

“But, yeah, being in the top 10 and even with such a tough year, this is something incredible. I never say it, but I am really proud of myself, how I handled all of these challenges, and I’m proud of my team that they were there and they just support me.”

Currently ranked seven in the world, Sabalenka went 30-20 on the season without a title, but she did manage finals at Stuttgart and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, as well as semifinals at Rome, Cincinnati and the US Open.

It all adds up to a lesson in perseverance and overcoming challenges that should help Sabalenka – who is still just 24! – as she heads into what could be her prime years on tour.

Sabalenka will face Ons Jabeur in her first match at the WTA Finals on Monday. She may not be the favorite at this year’s event, but it is a testament to her strength that she has in the draw, with a shot to create a surprise.

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