BRISBANE, Australia - No.30 Aliaksandra Sasnovich is ok if you laugh at her lofty goals for 2019, but the 24-year-old Belarusian has a proven knack for seeing the future and the work ethic to make it happen.
On Wednesday night, Sasnovich avenged her loss in last year's Brisbane International final to World No.4 Elina Svitolina, lighting up the stat-sheet with beautifully struck winners to knock out the defending champion, 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 in the second round.
"I really wanted to win, to be honest," Sasnovich said. "I lost two times to Elina and at an exhibition match [against her] three weeks ago, I told the crowd that I lost two times and the third time is gonna be lucky.
"I have very good motivation. I don't like to lose, I think no one likes it. But it's very important in women's tennis, revenge. It's easier to play against players for me when I lost the previous match. I think it's for everyone like this, who is normal mentally."
Coming off a career-best season that saw her rise from No.87 to No.30, Sasnovich's rise kicked of here in Brisbane 12 months ago, when she came out of nowhere to make the final as a qualifier. With a quick wit and perfect punchline delivery, Sasnovich charmed the Brisbane crowd throughout the week and the crowd was once again behind her as she constructed an aggressive takedown of an in-form Svitolina.
"Today I improved something," Sasnovich said. "I tried to go to the net. I tried to do things that I never done, ever.
"I'm really happy that I can progress, that I can mentally work with myself. Sascha, you don't like it, but you have to go. You have to improve. If you're not improving, you're going to stay in the same place that you are.
"I am a maximalist. I want the maximum. If it's not like this then I'm not doing this. If I'm not good on this, I have to do it. I understand. To be where I want to be I have to work on my very not so good sides."
That mentality sums up Sasnovich's approach to the 2019 season. Part of a strong young Belarusian crew that includes breakout star No.13 Aryna Sabalenka as well as former No.1 Victoria Azarenka, Sasnovich has no reason to doubt her abilities.
"I think if I'm going to work like this, I believe in me," Sasnovich said. "For example, my goal for the season is to be Top 10.
"It's crazy. My mom was laughing. She was like Sasha, please, one second, (covers mouth) ha ha ha ha ha.
"We celebrated the new year at home, but two weeks before. My mom wanted me to wear some special nice costume. Trousers and jacket. Very nice.
"I said mom, no, I'm going to wear it for Top 8. Again, my mom: one second, ha ha ha ha ha. But my mom is like this, she believes in me. She remembers what level I was. She likes it.
"But the important thing she told me: Sasha, I don't care about tennis. You have to marry good," Sasnovich said with a laugh.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich is gunning for the Top 10.
Hear her recount her mother’s hilarious reaction to her lofty ambitions after her big win over Elina Svitolina @BrisbaneTennis.#BrisbaneTennis pic.twitter.com/O7By7x0ZWZ
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 3, 2019
Sasnovich knows cracking the Top 10 or qualifying for the WTA Finals is a lofty goal, but that's precisely the point.
"I see myself in the future," Sasnovich said. "I have ambition. It's not interesting if you're not having it. All tennis players here have ambition. Some has smaller, some has bigger. But if you don't want anything? That is strange.
"I want more than I can, probably. But I want it."