Soon-to-be world No 1 Aryna Sabalenka’s kind words to Iga Swiatek

Shahida Jacobs
Aryna Sabalenka attends a press conference
Aryna Sabalenka speaks to the media

Aryna Sabalenka was already a big winner before she stepped onto court for her US Open match against Daria Kasatkina, but there was no let-up from the second seed as she brushed aside Daria Kasatkina.

On the back of Iga Swiatek’s fourth-round defeat to Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday, Sabalenka will become the new WTA world No 1 when the rankings are updated after the season-ending Grand Slam.

The 25-year-old, who defeated Kasatkina 6-1, 6-4, will become the 29th world No 1 as she will replace Swiatek after the Pole had spent 75 consecutive weeks at the top.

Her battle with Swiatek has been an intense one the past year as she also had opportunities at Roland Garros and Wimbledon to usurp the 22-year-old, but the four-time major winner held firm.

But it was third time lucky for Sabalenka, although she admits there was a little sadness when her big rival lost as she was hoping to settle the No 1 ranking on the court.

“To be honest, I didn’t want her to lose,” she said. “I was watching that match and I was just like, ‘C’mon, win it’. After some of the upsets, I thought she’s probably going to make it to the final. I was just thinking I’m going to do everything I can possible and impossible to reach the final and decide everything on court.

“So I was sad, but at the same time I have to be happy because it’s not like she just fell. All year I’ve been playing well. I put her under pressure.

“I was just sad and happy at the same time. I didn’t want to become world No 1 like this. I want a battle for this.”

READ MORE: Aryna Sabalenka gets No 1 monkey off her back – How she overcame serving yips to usurp Iga Swiatek

Swiatek was the dominant player on the WTA Tour last year as she won the French Open and US Open, but rest of the pack – with Sabalenka leading the way – caught up with her this year.

But the Pole has always been an inspiration for Sabalenka.

“I’m really happy that we have Iga on tour, someone who motivates me, especially me, to keep pushing, keep trying, keep improving myself,” the Minsk-born player said. “I think that’s the real sport, when you push yourself to the limits and you try to get better.

“I feel like it’s great that we’re playing great this year, we’re pushing each other. I really hope we’ll keep doing that and we’ll keep facing each other in the very last stages of the tournaments, we’ll battle against each other. This is what sport is.”