The meteoric rise of Spain’s new tennis sensation Paula Badosa

THIS has been an amazing year for Paula Badosa whose meteoric rise saw her soar from 70th place in the international rankings at the start of 2021 to win the Indian Wells Open on October 17.

The title earned her a place in Spanish tennis history as Spain’s first woman tennis player to win the US tournament.

Tennis: Bnp Paribas Open Womens Final
Oct 17, 2021; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Paula Badosa holds the champion trophy after defeating Victoria Azarenkain 3 sets n the womens final in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Credit: Cordon Press

The 23-year-old Catalan player began 2021 ranked in 70th place on the international ranking and with no titles to her name.

In May she won her first WTA title in Belgrade in May and then went to victory and the BNP Baripas Open in Indian Wells seeing her soar up the rankings to number 13.

The New York born Spaniard came into her own at Indian Wells, where she snatched victory from two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in what has been widely hailed as the most entertaining final of the season.

Tennis: Bnp Paribas Open Day 14
Paula Badosa serves as she defeated Victoria Azarenka in the womens final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA

This year has been “a roller-coaster year,” for Badosa who managed to overcome a shoulder injury, a change in coach and a three- week quarantine in Australia.

Badosa told reporters that “after all I’ve been through in my life, it wasn’t a disappointment”.

In interviews she has spoken candidly of her struggle to overcome depression in her teenage years and the pressure of expectations after she won the 2015 French Open girls’ singles title when she was just 17 years old.

A right-hander, she admits that having grown up playing on clay, this remains her favoured surface and this year saw her win 85% of her matches on clay courts.

The aggressive baseliner focuses her game around her favourite shots which are her powerful serve and groundstrokes. She aims “to be aggressive, but at the same time trying to be a good defender”. 

Tennis: Oct 17 Bnp Paribas Open
October 17, 2021 (Credit Image: © John Cordes/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Balance is also crucial in Badosa’s life. Speaking with WTA Insider she said when she is practising she dedicates “100%” during the “four or five hours a day”.

However she mentioned that even icons like the Big Three – Noval Djokovic, Roger Federer and fellow Spaniard Rafa Nadal – are a “perfect example” as they “have their personal life” something she is “trying to do.” 

Badosa’s idol is Maria Sharapova who she is increasingly compared with due to her aggressive playing style, clay court prowess, and mental toughness.

Tennis: Oct 17 Bnp Paribas Open
October 17, 2021(Credit Image: © John Cordes/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

The former junior world No. 8.also treasures the friendships she has made with competitors who she described as “amazing”.

She insists that: “If you don’t have good energy here it’s even tougher” and that this friendly environment “doesn’t change anything” about the game play between competitors.


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