Tennis-Sabalenka seeks ‘home’ comforts in Miami after Indian Wells shock

By Thomson Reuters Mar 13, 2024 | 11:51 PM

(Reuters) – World number two Aryna Sabalenka shrugged off her stunning defeat by Emma Navarro in the fourth round of Indian Wells and said she hoped her “home” tournament in Miami next week would provide the platform to hit peak form again.

After winning the Australian Open in January for her second Grand Slam title, the Belarusian lost to Donna Vekic in the Dubai second round before crashing 6-3 3-6 6-2 to American Navarro in the Californian desert on Wednesday.

“I’d say that this year Indian Wells I didn’t feel my best on these courts. I tried to adjust. We tried to work on a couple of things, make sure I’m there and I’m fighting for the title,” she told reporters.

“We did our best and we’ll learn. We’ll work a little bit more on the movement and hopefully I’ll be ready for Miami.”

The Minsk-born 25-year-old, who now resides in Miami, said she is looking forward to the March 19-31 tournament in Florida and hopes to improve on last year’s quarter-final finish.

“I love this tournament and I’d say I feel at home because I stay at home there. Such a nice tournament. I didn’t have chance to play really well there,” Sabalenka said.

“Hopefully this is the year to show my best and to bring my best tennis and to do well there.”

Sabalenka, who reached the U.S. Open final last year as well as the semi-finals of the French Open and Wimbledon, said she was determined to build on her success at Melbourne Park.

“It’s not like I won Australian Open at the beginning of the year and the year is done. I’m always hungry for wins and always want to do well and bring my best tennis,” Sabalenka added.

“I’ll keep working and hopefully at the end of the year I’ll think about this year as the best year of my career.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)