Aryna Sabalenka gears up for clay season amid difficult time

The Australian Open champion has been going through a difficult time

By Web Desk
April 16, 2024

Aryna Sabalenka is looking forward to her Stuttgart opener as the world number two gears up for clay season ahead of the French Open, which starts next month.

The Australian Open champion has been going through a difficult time after the apparent suicide of her former boyfriend, Konstantin Koltsov, before Miami Open last month.

The 25-year-old Belarusian went down in the third round in Florida before moving her focus to clay with her eyes set on the year's second Grand Slam in Paris starting on May 26.

Last year's Roland Garros semi-finalist told reporters she began preparations for clay straight after Miami.

"Stuttgart is a good place to start the clay season," she added.

"You're slowly getting into this 'clay mood', sliding, playing long rallies. I like to play lots of tournaments before the Grand Slam, so I think it's a good one to start with."

Sabalenka will face good friend Paula Badosa on Wednesday in a rematch of the pair's second-round Miami meeting.

Defending champion Iga Swiatek said she too is gradually moving to the slower surface, having led Poland into the Billie Jean King Cup Finals last week.

"I felt today that I can do the transition pretty quickly," said the top-ranked Swiatek, who will take on Elise Mertens or Tatjana Maria.

"I'm not expecting that I'm going to feel comfortable from my first match because you always need some matches to just gain confidence on any surface, even if you feel comfortable on it."