Aryna Sabalenka - Australian Open 2024

Aryna Sabalenka claims that she ‘didn’t want to damage women’s tennis’ after revealing she prefers the ATP Tour

Aryna Sabalenka has responded to criticism from fans, after the Australian Open champion claimed that she preferred watching men’s tennis as ‘there is more strategy’.

Sabalenka has made a winning start to her Madrid Open title defence, after beating Magda Linette 6-4 3-6 6-4 to reach the third round in the Spanish capital.

However, the world No.2 has been in the news for different reasons this week, after revealing that she preferred watching her male colleagues rather than fellow WTA players.

“I feel that I have lowered the level a little within that hypothetical ‘Big Three’ [Iga Swiatek, Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina], this last month seems more like a ‘Big Two’ (laughs),” Sabalenka said in her pre-tournament press conference. “However, I am happy to be part of this group. I hope to maintain my level and that they keep playing this way.

“I don’t watch their matches… I feel like I’ve played against them enough and that, if I face one of them again, my coach is going to show me images of their matches to analyse and prepare me. I’m not someone who watches too much tennis, I prefer to watch men’s tennis rather than women’s tennis, I feel like there is more strategy and it’s more interesting to watch.”

After beating Linette in Madrid, Sabalenka was asked about these previous comments and responded to some of the criticism that she has received.

“I didn’t want to damage women’s tennis, no,” insisted Sabalenka. “Listen, I mean, we are doing our best and, great, there are lots of great matches. I don’t like to watch it just because I play against all of them, and I just want to kind of like change the picture, and because I watch lots of women’s tennis before I go to the match, I watch my opponents, I watch lots of women’s tennis.”

The 25-year-old continued, “It’s not like I don’t like it or like I try to offend what I do, you know. I was just trying to say that because I’m playing there and it’s too much for me, I’m just trying to watch men’s tennis. For me, it’s more fun than watching probably my future opponents in the tournament.”

Sabalenka will now turn her attention back to the tournament, with the Belarusian playing wildcard Robin Montgomery in the Madrid Open third round on Sunday.

Inside the baseline…

It was perhaps a careless statement from Aryna Sabalenka to make, but the Australian Open champion probably should not have received the amount of criticism that she did. After providing more explanation to the reason why she prefers watching men’s tennis, Sabalenka will hopefully clear the storm up and the attention can return back to the match court.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.