She’s on course to qualify for her third Olympics, but the physical and mental challenges aren’t getting any easier for Sabrina Jaquet.
At 32, the Swiss is one of the oldest women’s singles players on the circuit, and admitted she’s feeling the strain. A break at the end of a busy season last year gave her renewed zeal after a period when she was struggling on court.
“I had a tough time for a few months when I wasn’t really feeling good on court,” said Jaquet, during last month’s Indonesia Masters, her season-opening tournament.
“It was more of a mental thing. I wasn’t really enjoying playing. I felt fit, but I was not enjoying training, I took a break for one-and-a-half months, and then I did a re-start. I was practising, but I’d taken a break from competition. I also took a holiday for few days to refresh my mind and then I started working really hard… now it’s better.”
Last year Jaquet played 19 tournaments comprising a wide range – from Super 750 to International Challenge events. The world No.52 says the lower-tier tournaments can be harder on the body.
“At smaller tournaments like the International Challenge, I have to play two matches a day. It’s really tough. So I try to play bigger tournaments when I have the opportunity, and then I have time to recover. But if I play three or four days in a row, like at the Russian Open (Super 100) where I played the semifinals, I feel really tired.”
Given the physical strain, she says, rhythm can become elusive.
“It’s sometimes difficult to know, why it’s working on one day, and why not (on another day). I’m not the youngest one any more, my body feels stiff sometimes when I go on court, and then it’s difficult because my game is based on my physical ability. I’m not really a technical payer, I’m more of a runner, and when my legs are not working, it’s quite difficult for me, and I come to a mood where I’m negative with myself. Today it was working quite well, even though the hall is tough to play.”
Despite the challenges of staying physically and mentally sharp for the rigors of the Tour, Jaquet is well-placed to make her third Olympics. She is currently No.26 on the Race to Tokyo.
“It’s a big year, but I try not to focus too much on the Olympics. I’ve already played twice. If I play well, I should be there. I’m playing well in general, and I should qualify. I have the level for that. It might be my last one, and I will try to enjoy it.”