Aryna Sabalenka believes experience will be crucial as she looks to cut out the "stupid errors" and win her first Grand Slam title in 2022.
Sabalenka made her breakthrough at majors this season, reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, having never previously gone beyond the fourth round.
She came close to reaching the final on both occasions but was beaten by Karolina Pliskova and Leylah Fernandez in three-set encounters.
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Sabalenka is hoping that the lessons learned this year will help her to take the next step in 2022.
“I have been working with a psychologist for a very long time. In fact, if you look at me four years ago and now, I have improved my psychological condition,” she said ahead of playing at this week’s Kremlin Cup.
“It seems to me that no psychologist will prepare me for these situations (in Grand Slams). You need to go through it yourself, feel it, get nervous, understand this situation for yourself.
“I’m more than sure that the next semi-final at the Slam I won’t be so nervous. I will act more confidently, I won’t make the stupid errors that I made in important moments in the last semi-final. It’s a matter of experience, you need to go through it. I don’t think a psychologist will be able to prepare for this.”
Asked whether she has any regrets over her season, Salabenka added: “I would go back to my semi-final matches at the US Open and Wimbledon. I would have tried to do everything differently – maybe I would have been less nervous.
“The game was very nervous, and I would have returned to these matches to worry less.”
Sabalenka, who is returning to the tour for the first time since missing the US Open after testing positive for Covid-19, has enjoyed a strong season.
She has lifted titles in Abu Dhabi and Madrid, and won 43 matches on the WTA Tour, which is behind only Barbora Krejcikova (44) and Ons Jabeur (48).
She thinks there is still room for improvement, and hopes to get back to peak fitness in Moscow this week.
“I think I played very consistently this year, but, of course, it is possible to be more consistent. I have to keep working on myself, be more consistent. I think I’m moving in the right direction, I just need to keep working on myself.
“I’m not in my best shape, but I know that I need the upcoming matches in the Kremlin Cup, because I haven’t played for almost a month. Maybe I haven’t returned to 100 per cent of my physical form, but psychologically I am at my maximum and ready to win no matter what.”
Sabalenka is the top seed in Moscow and will start against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.

Our view – Sabalenka is ready to win first major

Sabalenka is right there. She has gone from a player who regularly fell short at majors to one who has reached the last four in the previous two majors. She now appears much more composed than the player who used to “get crazy on the court” at times, and perhaps the experience of this season will be key in taking the next step.
In both her major semi-final defeats in 2021 she hit more winners than her opponent and started better, taking the first set against Pliskova and leading 3-0 and 4-2 against Fernandez before losing in a tie-break. But her level dropped against Pliskova as she failed to conjure another break point, while against Fernandez she hit two double faults at a crucial moment late in the match.
Sabalenka said after her US Open exit that she is looking for improvement in pressure moments, and if she can find that then a first major win shouldn’t be further away.
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