Paula Badosa continued her remarkable rise by winning in Indian Wells on Sunday, validating comparisons to Russian tennis legend Maria Sharapova.
Badosa defeated two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in a thrilling three-set match at Indian Wells, with the Spaniard coming out on top 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.
The win takes the 23-year-old to a new career-high world ranking of 13 after she started the year at number 70.
It's been a breakthrough year for Badosa after she won her first WTA title in Belgrade back in May before adding the second at Indian Wells.
“The first thing that I've learned this week is that nothing is impossible,” said Badosa. “If you fight, if you work, after all these years, you can achieve anything…
“In my case, I've been through tough moments. I never stopped dreaming. That’s what kept me working hard and believing until the last moment.
“I'm very happy what’s happening. I’m a little bit still in shock what happened today because winning a tournament like this, it’s always been a dream.”
The path to her new ranking has been a long and windy one, which is why the Indian Wells prize winnings of $1.2 million will be much appreciated.
Badosa was born in New York to parents who worked in fashion, and she moved to Spain as a youngster to grow up in Barcelona. She also spent time training in Valencia after she began playing tennis.
Will Paula Badosa win a Grand Slam in her career? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
She began to earn plaudits when she became French Open junior champion in 2015, defeating Anna Kalinskaya of Russia in the final – and Badosa publicly said Sharapova was one of her idols due to their similar play styles: “Mentally she is very good, she is a born fighter…I think she is a spectacular player.”
Badosa shares similarities with the five-time Grand Slam champion, as they both employ an aggressive, heavy-hitting style.
A fan commented on the comparisons between the pair and said it was ‘crazy’ how similar the Spaniard looked to Sharapova, and Badosa welcomed the comparisons while dismissing them.
“Haha they say it a lot. I wish I could be as amazing as her. But thanks anyway, it’s always a good comparison,” Badosa modestly replied.
Sharapova was a three-time Grand Slam champion by the time she was 23 – Badosa’s current age.
The Spaniard has spoken previously of her battles with mental health and the weight of expectation.
Don't miss a thing with our football updates!
Want to be on the ball with all of the latest football news?
Well then sign up for the brilliant Daily Star football email newsletter!
From the latest transfer news to the agenda-setting stories, get it all in your email inbox – don't miss a thing.
How do you sign up?
It only takes a matter of seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article and hit 'subscribe'.
And that's it, job done. You'll receive an email with all of the top news stories every single morning.
You can find out more information on our email newsletter on this link here.
“Everyone thinks that I would be a top 10 player at 18 years,” she said.
“But I was not prepared or aware either. Some unreal expectations came up and then I lost. I had to be on the sidelines to improve and be happy.
“I was depressed and nervous. Then I looked for [former coach] Xavier Budo, who changed my life.”
Badosa impressed at the French Open this year, reaching the quarter-finals – the same stage she reached at the Tokyo Olympics before retiring due to the heat.
However, her epic performance against Azarenka to win Indian Wells was a testament to her newfound belief and confidence in her own abilities.
She is still in contention for a spot at the season-ending WTA Finals in Guadalajara, after her tally was boosted by the 1,000 points she earned at Indian Wells. The score takes her to eighth in the race to Mexico with a month to go before the event begins.
Badosa is starting to crack into the big time. If she is anything like Sharapova, she will thrive in the spotlight.
Source: Read Full Article