Paula Badosa has continued to write chapters in her wonderful 2021 season, the Spaniard shone at home at Mutua Madrid Open in her run to the semi-finals of her home tournament. Now the Spaniard has added to her title in Belgrade becoming the champion at Indian Wells and the first Spaniard to win the title.
Beginning the year down at 74 in the world, not a bad place by any stretch of the imagination to be but still a fight in big WTA events and she has excelled at the opportunities put before her this year.
Her tennis has been utter brilliant to watch, she plays with such passion, dedication and a confidence. When I watch Paula play it does feel like every match is the most important and it has transcribed in her results.
Madrid Open – semi-finalist
Cincinnati – quarter-finalist
Indian Wells – winner
Roland Garros – quarter finalist
Wimbledon – fourth round
It may not have happened for her at the US Open or Australian Open but on all surfaces she has been a threat after a difficult start to the year.
A lot of Paula’s time in January was spent in a hotel room in Melbourne, the Spaniard was one of many who complained about quarantine rules down under before then contracting the virus herself. Paula apologised for her earlier comments but it must’ve been a tough moment for her to travel to the event and then test positive. This meant she couldn’t play any warm-ups or train and lost in round one of the Australian Open.
The 23 year old in her earlier battles with injuries and this setback showed her resilience, she went away and has come back stronger.
This year she has beaten Ash Barty, Iga Swiatek Aryna Sabalenka and Barbora Krejcikova amongst others. On her way to the title in California the Spaniard saw off:
Dayana Yastremska – 6-4 2-6 6-2
Coco Gauff (15) – 6-2 6-2
Barbora Krejcikova (3) – 6-1 7-5
Angie Kerber (10) – 6-4 7-5
Ons Jabeur (12) – 6-3 6-3
Victoria Azarenka (27) – 7-6 2-6 7-6
A truly remarkable run. Grand Slam champions and some of the sports biggest names, not to forget in that final set against Vika was 4-5 0-30 down and on the cusp of losing the final but she found another gear.
This title has put her firmly in contention for a place at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. We don’t know on schedules but if all were to play then so far: Ash Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejcikova and Karolina Pliskova are all in. There are doubts over Ash Barty’s participation which would then open up another space.
The cut off is getting smaller and smaller, it will be a matter of time before Iga Swiatek and Maria Sakkari qualify. Muguruza? Holding off slightly depending on how well she does in Moscow where Ons Jabeur would like to keep herself in the conversation and including Paula that would be that for contenders.
I don’t expect to see Naomi Osaka this year and Elina Svitolina can win in Tenerife but it’s too little too late for her.
Paula has come out of nowhere and will have her eyes on Moscow knowing that a title win for either Sakkari, Muguruza or Jabeur would seal their place in the season finale.
So much of this could ride on the tennis that is yet to be played or simply on the decision of Ash Barty, if she pulls out then it will most likely be the group of Sakkari, Muguruza, Swiatek, Badosa and Jabeur that qualify.