BERLIN -- World No.3 Aryna Sabalenka will not play the upcoming Paris Olympics. The reigning Australian Open champion told reporters at the ecotrans Ladies Open that she has made the decision in order to take care of herself and prepare for the hard-court summer. 

"Especially with all the struggles I've been struggling with the last months, I feel I have to take care of my health," Sabalenka said at media day on Monday. "It's too much for the scheduling and I made the decision to take care of my health."

For the first time since Barcelona in 1992, the Olympic tennis event will be held on clay. This will require players to transition from grass at Wimbledon to the clay at Roland Garros for the Olympics and back to the North American hard courts. The hard-court summer features back-to-back WTA 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati, followed by the final Grand Slam of the year at the US Open, where Sabalenka was a finalist last year.

"I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I'm ready for the hard courts," Sabalenka said, "and I'll have a good preparation before going to the hard court season. I feel that this is safer and better for my body."

Sabalenka is the No.2 seed this week in Berlin. She is playing her first tournament since Roland Garros, where she struggled with a stomach illness during her quarterfinal loss to Mirra Andreeva. 

"It was the worst experience I had in my life on court," Sabalenka said. "I've played while being ill, I've played with injuries, but when you have a stomach bug and you don't have any energy to play and you're in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, that was really terrible experience. But it is how it is.

"I think my body was just asking for some rest. I managed to find a couple of days to chill and recover after the tough months."

Marleen Fouchier

Sabalenka has already begun her grass-court preparation with a week training on the grass courts at Aorangi Park at Wimbledon. The initial adjustment was severe, but Sabalenka is confident she can quickly find her grass-court game. She has yet to win a title on the turf, but she is already a two-time semifinalist at Wimbledon.

"We just don't play enough time on grass so I don't have enough time to win a title," Sabalenka said. "It's not like I feel bad, I've made some good results on the grass and I feel really good. I think grass actually suits my game really well.

"So it's not about the surface, it's about the month of tournaments, the amount of opportunities that I have on a grass court."

Sabalenka will open her Berlin campaign against No.14 Daria Kasatkina in the second round. Kasatkina advanced with a 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 win over Marta Kostyuk on Monday.

WTA