FLASHBACK: Sabalenka stops Barty in Madrid final

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Aryna Sabalenka is still a little unsure of her fitness in the world No. 2's first WTA tournament since recovering from coronavirus.

Returning to competition in Moscow, the 23-year-old tested positive just before Indian Wells and had to withdraw from the event.

"For the first four days I felt so bad that I could not move. I was only in bed and couldn't do really anything. The rest of the days everything was fine," she said earlier this week, speaking to press.

"I thought that my physical condition would be worse, but after six days of training, I felt that everything was not as bad as I thought. Of course, I'm not in my best shape, but I know that I need matches in the Kremlin Cup, because I haven't played for almost a month."

Sabalenka is seeking her third trophy of the season at the Kremlin Cup.

Sabalenka is seeking her third trophy of the season at the Kremlin Cup.

Up until that point, Sabalenka's 2021 included two titles and reaching her first major semifinal at Wimbledon. Though she matched that result at the US Open, Sabalenka went down in three sets in both semifinals, the first to Karolina Pliskova and the second toLeylah Fernandez.

"I would go back to my semifinal matches at the US Open, and Wimbledon. I would have tried to do everything differently—maybe I would have been less nervous," the Belarusian said. "The play was very nervous, and I would have gone back to these matches to worry less."

Having worked with a psychologist "for a very long time", Sabalenka also admits there's no substitute for learning from the moments themselves.

"This is a question of experience. It seems to me that no psychologist will prepare me for those occasions," she said. "You need to go through it yourself, feel it, get nervous, understand for yourself.

"I'm more than sure that the next semifinal at a Grand 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 semifinal."

Sabalenka got off to a positive start Wednesday when she defeated Ajla Tomljanovic over three sets. On Friday, the top seed fell to Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-3, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.