Aryna Sabalenka cites mental improvements as one fo the biggest factors behind her success in Doha.

Aryna Sabalenka is once again an emerging force after winning back-to-back Premier 5 tournaments in Wuhan and Doha, and comes in at 11 in the world in Monday’s WTA rankings, just two spots shy of her career-high.

Tennis Express

The 21-year-old credits her mental power as much as her physical power for the rise. In a “Champion’s Corner” interview with WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen, Sabalenka opened up on the improvements she has made in that area of her game of late.

To listen to the full interview, click the embedded tweet below:

“You have to show people that you are there not because good serve or you have this body or whatever, but that you are actually strong with your mind,” she said.

Sabalenka’s on-again off-again relationship with coach Dmitry Tursunov was on last week, with the Russian former World No.20 back by Sabalenka’s side to reignite one of tennis’ more formidable and controversial coach-player tandems.

Sabalenka tells Nguyen that Tursunov’s presence has been critical to her developing the mental tools necessary for her latest positive run of form.

“It gave me something which helped me to be stronger, to be more calm in the next matches,” she said of Tursunov.

Sabalenka says that the Russian’s voice is the one that hits home more than any other with her, and for her it is worth it to weather the relative volatility of the relationship in order to have his guidance.

“I trust him like nobody else,” she said. “And it’s so many things going around. It was some bad things he did, bad things I did—it’s always like up and down with him but I trust him like nobody else. What can I do with that? Like you said, if anybody else will tell me exactly the same things which Dmitry would say I would be like ‘oh, yeah, ok, ok,’ and then if Dimitry will come and say the same things I would be like ‘Oh, wow, that’s something new and interesting I’ve never heard it before.'”

At the heart of the matter for Sabalenka is this trust, and the belief that she can depend on Tursunov to help her achieve her goals in the sport.

“I know he’s a good guy, even if he is losing his mind sometimes and doing some weird things and saying something weird, but I know that he’s still good,” she said. “Also I’m not the easiest one with whom you can work. I am also a tough person and I also can be the craziest one. … “It’s tough but I like to work with him and I like what he’s doing with my game and I like what he’s saying so.”