Tennis coach and analyst Darren Cahill recently spoke about how Aryna Sabalenka has made some significant improvements this year, which helped her rise to the top of the WTA rankings.
Aryna Sabalenka has been the best player on the WTA tour in 2023. She won the Australian Open in January, and also finished as the runner-up to Coco Gauff at the recently concluded US Open. The latter campaign ensured she would become the new women’s World No. 1, since Iga Swiatek failed to defend her 2022 crown in New York.
Cahill was asked to shed some light on Sabalenka’s 2023 season while speaking on the Advantage Connors podcast with Jimmy Connors and his son Brett. The Aussie maintained that while the 25-year-old has a great coaching team, taking more accountability for her failings helped her become stronger as a player. He said:
“While she’s had good coaching, the real reason she’s been able to step up is she is taking matters into her own hands and she’s taken responsibility for everything.”
“She isn’t blaming anyone for anything. If she serves a double fault, ‘My fault. No, I gotta fix that. I’ve gotta get out on the practice courts and work out why I’m serving these double faults’.”
Cahill then praised the Belarusian for working hard to improve her physical conditioning, which has helped her win many close matches this year.
“She works incredibly hard off the court. She pushed herself to be a much better athlete,” he added.
“I thought Aryna Sabalenka had a much better chance to win a Major, than she did at being the No. 1 player in the world” – Darren Cahill
During the podcast, Cahill also disclosed that he previously had his doubts about Aryna Sabalenka becoming the women’s No. 1 player. He said:
“Everyone always knew she’s got incredible weapons, and whether or not she was able to harness those weapons and put them into play time and time again to be consistent enough. I thought she had a much better chance to win a Major than she did at being the No. 1 player in the world.”
The Aussie elaborated on the above point by insisting that becoming the top-ranked player in the world requires consistent results at the big tournaments over the course of an entire season.
“Simply because, the No. 1 player in the world is tougher. Fewer players are able to do it, ’cause you need to be consistent over a long period of time,” he added.
For what it’s worth, Aryna Sabalenka has arguably been the most consistent player on the WTA tour in 2023. The Belarusian has exited before the quarterfinals of a tournament only thrice this season, at the 2023 Canadian Open, the 2023 Italian Open and the WTA 500 tournament in Berlin.
Overall, Sabalenka has won three titles: the 2023 Australian Open, the WTA 1000 event in Madrid, and the 500-level event in Adelaide. The 25-year-old has also finished as the runner-up in New York, Stuttgart and Indian Wells.