If this week is any indication, Aryna Sabalenka has rediscovered the form that propelled her to the Top 10.

On Saturday, Sabalenka became the first player to successfully retain the Wuhan Open crown, defeating Alison Riske, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. After splitting the first two sets, the reigning champion stormed ahead in the decider, firing six aces and breaking the American twice to lock up the victory in one hour and 54 minutes.

Sabalenka and Riske were meeting for the second time this year, having opened the season by contesting the title match in Shenzhen, which the Belarusian also won in three sets. In between her two triumphs, Sabalenka had experienced an uneven 2019 singles campaign, failing to reach the second week at all four majors and appearing in one final at San Jose, when she recalls she started putting pressure on herself again.

This time, she's learned not to do that.

"I just feel, like someone said before, the 'tiger is back,'" she told press at Wuhan during the week, using her nickname. "Just go for shots. I'm just enjoying the game on the court.

"I'm really happy that this feeling coming back to me, like this feeling to be interesting to go on the court, interesting to play each point, to fight, just to stay in the tournament, this feeling of like enjoying the game."


The 'Tiger' is officially back: Sabalenka repeats as Wuhan champion

The 'Tiger' is officially back: Sabalenka repeats as Wuhan champion

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Sabalenka split and then appeared to consider reuniting with her coach, Dmitry Tursunov, during the US Open. The two have been working together at Wuhan, but Sabalenka was by herself the previous week at Guangzhou and found she could not blame others for her problems.

And despite her inconsistent singles results, Sabalenka has enjoyed success in doubles by winning Indian Wells, Miami and the US Open, helped by the positive attitude of her doubles partner Elise Mertens. All of that, she says, has been valuable experience that she can now use.

"I think I was kind of need to go through all this stuff to understand what tennis actually about," she said. "On my game, like I said before, it's actually helped me to understand what happened this year. I just understand that every time I was trying to find excuses. Everything was not about tennis."

Sabalenka is expected to remain at No. 14 in the rankings as a result of defending her crown. After suitable rest, she will return to the court to play the doubles final alongside Mertens against Duan Ying-Ying and Veronika Kudermetova.

Riske, who enjoyed a stellar run to the final with victories over Wang Qiang, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova, will break inside the Top 25 for the first time.

The 'Tiger' is officially back: Sabalenka repeats as Wuhan champion

The 'Tiger' is officially back: Sabalenka repeats as Wuhan champion