Aryna Sabalenka is playing the best tennis of her life, and isn’t about to let a little 14-day quarantine get in her way ahead of the Australian Open.
Undefeated since September, the Belarusian revealed her game plan for her next opponent—an unpredictable doubles team known as “boredom and inertia”—after winning a third straight title in Abu Dhabi.
“My coach asked my agent to rent me a bike so that I can have a bike in my [hotel] room and I can keep moving while I’m in quarantine,” she said after her 15th straight win over debutante WTA finalist Veronika Kudermetova.
Players will only be allotted a small daily window for outdoor exercise as they prepare for the first major of 2021, forcing the soon-to-be world No.7, who has energy to burn, to improvise her ever-evolving pre-match prep.
“Those five hours, it’s not enough for me, and so I think I’ll be biking all day long, through all those 14 days" she said.
When not racking up RPMs, The Girl with the Tiger Tattoo has looked to literature to remain inspired, unsurprisingly picking the bawdily-titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck to read in her free time.
“There are so many more important things in life than tennis, and if you’re out on the court, you just have to enjoy your tennis, and do everything you can in every moment," she said. "I’m trying to use the opportunities that I have, and this kind of thinking has helped me be more successful.”
Still just 22 years old, Sabalenka ended 2020 with back-to-back titles in Ostrava and Linz, tying Simona Halep for most trophies that season. She recently streamlined her team to put former hitting partner Anton Dubrov in charge as her head coach and taskmaster.
“First I have the warm-up before the warm-up, then a one hour warm-up, and finally the warm-up before the match," Sabalenka said. "They’re doing everything they can for me, helping me with everything. They’re both really positive guys, and it really helped me to be really calm at tournaments.
“I know they’re behind me and that, if anything happens, they can fix it. This has also been the key to my success.”
With a ninth title to reinforce her robust routine, she leaves Abu Dhabi with no regrets.
“I think I did everything perfectly or, I should say, I did everything I could in each match I played," she said. "There is nothing I could have done differently this week.”