Aryna Sabalenka goes from underarm serving and 428 double faults in 2022 to mentality monster

Aryna Sabalenka delighted

What a turnaround Aryna Sabalenka has experienced! This time last year she was serving underarm, but fast forward twelve months and she came up clutch en route to winning her maiden Grand Slam at the 2023 Australian Open.

Sabalenka was known for mentally falling apart during crucial moments in big matches, yet during the season-opening Grand Slam she produced big tennis when she needed it the most to beat Elena Rybakina in the final on Rod Laver Arena.

But let’s rewind to the 2022 season and the Australian swing in particular.

Sabalenka made a nightmare start to the campaign as she lost her openers in the Adelaide International 1 and the Adelaide International 2.

The season was just a few weeks old when her Sabalenka’s serving woes became so bad that she started serving underarm.

It was a problem throughout the 2022 season as she played 55 matches and served an astonishing 428 double faults in 601 service games. Her first serve percentage was only 59.7% and points won on first serve was 67.7%

Needless to say, she didn’t have the greatest of seasons as she failed to win any titles, although she finished runner-up in Stuttgard, Rosmalen and the WTA Finals.

That run to the WTA Finals may well have shaped her 2023 season as her serve started to improve.

Her decision to work with a biomechanics trainer became a crucial aspect to her future he helped her to improve her “disaster” serve.

“I worked so hard. Even when my serve was a disaster, I worked a lot on my serve. I kept trying, kept believing, kept changing. Then I worked on my biomechanics,” the 24-year-old revealed in Melbourne last week.

“I thought it was (my) mentality, but it wasn’t. We changed a lot of things on how we work on my serve. We tried so many different things. In the end of the season when I started working with the biomechanic guy, he helped me a lot.”

She didn’t drop a set en route to winning the Adelaide International 1 and then made it 10 matches in a row without dropping a set as she reached the Australian Open final, her maiden Grand Slam final.

Her decision to take charge of own destiny has really paid off as she also dropped her psychologist and prefers to do things her own way.

“To be honest I decided to stop working with a psychologist. I realised that nobody (other) than me will help me,” she said.

“In pre-season, I spoke to my psychologist saying ‘Listen, I feel I have to deal with that by myself,’ because every time I’m hoping that someone will fix my problem, it’s not fixing it.

“I just have to take this responsibility and I just have to deal with that. Yeah… I’m my (own) psychologist.”

And on Saturday in the Australian Open final it all came together for Sabalenka as there was no mental meltdown when she was up against it after losing the first set while she also came up with big serves when she needed to.

To go from serving underarm in 2022 to only making nine double faults in the 2023 Australian Open final takes some doing.

READ MORE: Aryna Sabalenka powers her way to Australian Open title with impressive win over Elena Rybakina