Written by By Staff Writer
Yulia Sabalenka may have only just been awarded her first Grand Slam title, but the world No. 4 suffered with a viral illness during the US Open.
The Russian beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in a final that went the full distance in New York before she won 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 on Monday.
But Sabalenka revealed she had suffered a virus in the build-up to the tournament, meaning she had to skip the press conference after winning the biggest title of her career.
“For a few days I was feeling really bad. My body didn’t work well. I couldn’t even eat,” she told a press conference on Tuesday, ahead of the China Open in Beijing.
“I haven’t had any tests or anything, but just because my body couldn’t work, I didn’t want to do any interviews, because I didn’t want to do any training.”
For a woman ranked inside the top 20, she appeared noticeably uncomfortable, repeating several times to her entourage: “Please keep me warm and keep me warm.”
Though she struggled with the virus in the early rounds of the tournament, Sabalenka beat unseeded compatriot Ekaterina Makarova in the last eight before defeat to 10th seed Venus Williams in the semi-finals.
“I started to feel like I was going to pass out sometimes and I just couldn’t breathe,” said Sabalenka, who said she woke up on the morning of the final and “just felt terrible.”
“The only day that I didn’t have any test or anything, I just believe that I was sick,” said the 24-year-old.
If further tests had revealed the illness, Sabalenka may not have made it to the US Open final.
“I have no idea how I was alive. And after this tournament, I feel so good. I just need to take a month and go home,” she said.
To add to her frustration, Sabalenka said she was upset she didn’t get the chance to visit the Czech Republic’s Mihalcova Clinic during the US Open as she wanted to be tested.
“I just went to therapy, but I had no chance to check my temperature. I don’t even know what they did, but they sent me home. I wanted to go see them to be sure that this is all fine, but I was not ready to go to the clinic,” she said.
Sabalenka may now be unavailable for some weeks as she recovers, but she said she has already been receiving a vaccination in China.
The Belarusian joins a class of Belarusian players who have done well at the US Open, with compatriots Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka in the main draw and Doukhobors and Ukranian Jelena Kuchar also in the ladies’ singles draw.
Sabalenka, however, struggled to give a response when asked if she expected to play in US Open singles play after winning in New York.
The Miami Open and the US Open will both be followed by the WTA Finals in Singapore, which will provide Sabalenka with an opportunity to reach the tour’s year-end summit.
The world No. 4 also faces a busy schedule.
She will play her first WTA hard court event in Beijing on September 25 before heading to San Jose on September 30 and her home city of Minsk two days later.