Sabalenka dropped psychologist before red-hot run in Australia

MELBOURNE, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Aryna Sabalenka said she stopped consulting a psychologist in pre-season and took the mental aspect of her game into her own hands, reaping immediate rewards with a title in Adelaide and a spot in the Australian Open final.

The Belarusian fifth seed had lost her three previous Grand Slam semi-finals but downed Poland's Magda Linette 7-6(1) 6-2 at Melbourne Park on Thursday to set up an intriguing title clash with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

The victory extended Sabalenka's winning streak to 10 straight matches in 2023 without dropping a set, a run that followed a big decision before the start of the new season.

"To be honest I decided to stop working with a psychologist. I realised that nobody (other) than me will help me," Sabalenka told reporters.

"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."

The 24-year-old said she was also dealing with the rigours of being a professional athlete in the absence of a psychologist by speaking more with those closest to her.

"I talk a lot with my team. Also with my family," Sabalenka added. "I think I know myself quite well. I know how to handle my emotions."

Sabalenka said earlier in the tournament that she needed to be a bit more "boring" on the court to be a more effective player.

"Yeah, I was trying to scream less after some bad points or some errors. I was just trying to hold myself, stay calm, just think about the next point," she added.

"Actually, I'm not that boring, I think. I'm still screaming 'come on' and all that stuff. I don't think it's that boring to watch me. I hope so.

"Just less negative emotions."

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Melbourne Editing by Toby Davis

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