Aryna Sabalenka says the focus remains on titles not rankings despite getting nearer to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek.
She also admits that victory in Melbourne has changed her mentality going into Grand Slams, giving her more “freedom”.
Speaking to Eurosport’s Alize Lim, Sabalenka said: “I always wanted to win as many titles as possible during my career.
“So, if I keep thinking that way and focusing on myself then there’s always going to be a chance to become No. 1.
“It’s not my priority goal, but this is something I really want to see happen in the future.
“It’s a different approach right now, before I was thinking like ‘come on, you need to get at least one Grand Slam in your career.’
“But right now, I have this Grand Slam and can play with more freedom, you don’t think about being a top player without a Grand Slam.
“You just think about your game and wanting to bring your best game every time you’re out on court. It’s a different approach right now.”
There is hope that Sabalenka and current world No. 1 Iga Swiatek can develop an era-defining rivalry, something the Belarusian believes can only aide her game.
“Last season I lost so many matches against her and she pushed me a lot. I remember myself practising and thinking ‘if you want to beat Iga, you have to keep running, doing what you’re doing, keep working hard and pushing yourself.’
“She definitely makes me a better player, and I’m super happy to see us playing in the finals and hopefully we can keep meeting in the finals for the rest of the season, and maybe more. I’m going to do everything to make these matches happen.
“She’s not the only one [I think about in practice], but when you have lost four matches in a row against a player, you’re going to think about this player when you practice.”
The 25-year-old continues her preparations for the French Open on Thursday when she faces Sofia Kenin at the Italian Open, and explained the differences between playing on clay as opposed to hard courts.
She is also eager to improve her performance at Roland-Garros this year after a disappointing third-round exit to Camila Giorgi in 2022.
“It’s not like I adapt my game a lot, but sometimes you go with more of the spin or with the flat shots on a hard court,” Sabalenka said.
“I like clay because I have extra time to go with my powerful shots and it’s not like I am really adjusting my game.
“I probably adjust my movement a bit because you have to slide on clay, but overall, not much. I just have this extra time on clay.
“I want to try to focus myself and ignore those previous results and hopefully this year I can do much better than the third round.”
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