The main weakness of Aryna Sabalenka


The main weakness of Aryna Sabalenka

Belarus national tennis team coach Eduard Dubrov has revealed what the main weakness of Aryna Sabalenka is.

Dubrov: Maybe we were a little mistaken with picking Sabalenka and Sasnovich for the doubles match of the final. But the training showed that Sasnovich and Sabalenka are our strongest duo. The fact that Vera Lapko and Lidzia Marozava played in training sessions is not enough. I hoped they would play together at least a few tournaments before the Federation Cup final. They planned to perform in France but it did not work out. They were not tested in the battle.

Belarusian people is very kind, we are not inclined to fight against others. We are not selfish in this sense. But in sport, you have to be selfish.

By the way, I was very surprised by Vandeweghe's reaction to the victory in the first set of the doubles match. She was so angry! She threw up her hands, showed her biceps, as if there were two equal teams on the court. Looking at her, I said to my girls: "Play, play, they are really afraid of us." And it went better.

Belarus lost the second set after leading 5:2. With a score of 5:2, Sabalenka lost her serve, and with a score of 5:4 we had two set balls.

Now there are a lot of smart people. They call me with a complaint: "Who and how decided that those two should play in the doubles in that final? What kind of players are they? They are incompetent in the doubles! You cannot make such simple mistakes." Well, what's my attitude to that?

I understand that it is easy to show your fists after a fight. Yes, Aliaksandra Sasnovich hit the net quite often, while Aryna had lots of outs.

Question: Aryna is often compared to Serena Williams. Both girls show powerful tennis. But there is one more thing that unites them. Serena often fails the first set, since she enters the game for a long time, while Aryna very often loses second sets.

Dubrov: "She is like in a hurry, he wants to finish the rally at the return from the first stroke." Unreasonable risk is Sabalenka's main problem. I always tell her to let the play continue, to fight against the opponent longer, let them stroke two or three times! Or take the doubles match - she had so many mistakes when she did not let the ball hit the ground! What are you doing? The player is behind you, Sasha Sasnovich, she will cope. Aryna knows all this and cannot help it. When she is emotional, her brain gets so much oxygen... So much that she has amnesia. She seems to lose control over herself.

Serena prepares before hitting the ball. She creates a situation where, after an exchange, the opponent will play shorter and she will play from the halfcourt. Then she "kills", and takes a point. But Aryna wants to score everything from the back line!

Sabalenka does not yet have enough skills to do subtle things - drop shots that slower the rhythm or some curled lobs. She needs to learn the second serve as well.

Our girls suffer from the lack of spin from the second serve: they were not taught this in childhood. The ball flies very easily instead of making the opponent move away from the center of the court.

The world has changed. In my childhood there were no TVs or computers. Not everyone had even radios. People rejoiced at any communication: go to the cinema, go to the forest, swim in the river. Now they are sitting next to each other, buried in the telephones. Try to pull them out! You'll be in trouble! But struggle with this is meaningless.

I have recently coached Vera Lapko, but did not aspire to work with Aryna.

I remember being a captain, I once tried to make a remark during a difficult conversation with her, with lots of shouting, hysteria... She was a little rude to me: "You're so smart! Do you know everything?"

I've been about 60 years in tennis and suddenly I hear those words, and she was about ten at that time. For God's sake, keep calm, I told myself! I remained patient and that was right of me.

Over these two years she has grown wiser. Maybe she remembered that episode and realized that she was wrong. This year she invited me to come with her to tournaments in St. Petersburg and Tashkent. We wanted to go also to Tianjin, but it did not work out for family reasons. Relations between us were built quite differently. She thanked me and listened to me. When during matches I told her what to do using only hands she understood what needs to be done.

When I went with our women's team (Aryna Sabalenka, Vera Lapko and Irina Shymanovich) to the European Cup, where we lost in the finals to the Russians, I asked Aryna to hold a match in silence. She won and I asked: "Well, what did you feel?" And she replied: "You know, I realized that I have time to think."

I think she understood: when you scream, you just let the air out, but, after a pause, you can analyze the rally and think over a further plan.

Now Aryna trains with Khalil Ibrahimov, and he does not restrain her impulses. He says she was born like that and you can't stop that. Maybe, but it's necessary to improve the game too, and not get victories only on emotions. She wastes a lot of energy and nerves. You may lose your head like this if you continue doing so. In addition, these emotions did not help Aryna in the final vs Maria Sharapova and in the match with Vandeweghe, where she immediately failed in the second set - 0:5.

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