London: There was a moment in the Wimbledon second-round match between Aryna Sabalenka and Varvara Gracheva when the Belarusian, a set down and playing poorly, sent a forehand wide before letting out a huge scream of frustration.
However, it was that release, which surely could be heard all over the All England Club, that allowed the second seed to refocus and claw her way back for a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory on Friday.
“I was little bit crazy in that moment. I mean, I can’t throw my racket on the grass, so I felt like at least I need to scream, kind of lose it a little bit. After that I felt a little bit better. I felt a little relief inside,” the 25-year-old told a press conference.
“I felt like I started thinking a little bit better.”
Sabalenka, one of the favourites to win the title, reached the semi-finals in 2021 but did not participate last year due to the ban on players from Russia and Belarus.
The world No 2 conceded she was anxious before the tournament about the crowd having experienced a mixed reaction in her run to the French Open semi-finals last month.
However, that has not been the case at Wimbledon and Sabalenka appreciated the supportive British crowd as she seeks to secure her second Grand Slam crown having won this year’s Australian Open.
“I didn’t know what to expect from people. For me it’s really important to feel the support in the match,” she said.
“After the first match I felt amazing. I was really thankful for all the support. It was an amazing atmosphere, amazing feeling playing here.”