Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka's Triumph And Her 'Keep It Fun' Approach

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka says her successful title defence has been helped by a fun and relaxed approach away from the court.

The world number two retained her title with a dominant 6-3 6-2 win over Zheng Qinwen in the final on Saturday.

Always a fierce opponent, Sabalenka was once notorious for angry outbursts and leaving the court in tears.

However, the 26-year-old has shown a different side to herself at this year's tournament.

"It's enough pressure on the court, and off the court we're just trying to keep it simple, keep it fun, and make sure that all of us enjoy the process," Sabalenka said.

Before matches the Belarusian has been seen joking with her coaching team and enjoying warm-up exercises which involved desperate attempts to stop balloons from hitting the ground.

Her impressive run in Melbourne has also been accompanied by a new unusual pre-match tradition - writing her signature on her fitness trainer Jason Stacy's head.

Stacy joked that he was worried Sabalenka will take it a step further in future tournaments.

"Now they're trying to say I've got to get a tattoo of this on my head. I'm like, I don't know about that," he said.

"People learn better and they pay more attention and they're a bit more fresh, if they have a little bit of fun, have a bit of creativity."

Sabalenka lifted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup without having dropped a set in her seven matches at Melbourne Park.

A player who struggled for consistency in the earlier parts of her career, Sabalenka was known for double faulting at crucial moments and becoming emotional when matches were not going her way.

"There was a moment where I really didn't believe that I'm going win it [a major] one day," she said.

"There was a lot of up and downs, but I just couldn't quit."

Four months ago Sabalenka was seen smashing her racquet on the floor of the locker room after losing the US Open final to American Coco Gauff.

"There is not going to be big wins without really tough losses," said Sabalenka.

"Of course I was very down after those matches. I was crying, I was smashing the racquet, as we see. I was really crazy."

When the pair met again in the semi-finals in Australia, Sabalenka kept her emotions in check despite letting a 5-2 lead slip in the opening set.

"I'm more controlled and don't let the rest of the things come to my mind, and I was focusing on myself. So I think it's a big difference," she added.

"Even if I'm down in the score in my serve or even if someone breaks me, I am not getting crazy like I used to.

"I have this belief that no matter what happen, I'm able to fight for it."



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