No.7 seed Paula Badosa started the 2021 Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara in a dominant fashion, bagging 10 successive games to walk past top seed and World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka. On the back of the 6-4, 6-0 win, the 23-year-old Spaniard now joins No.4 seed Maria Sakkari atop the Chichen Itza group after Day 2. The latest win helps Badosa maintain her winning streak, as she won her last seven matches dating back to her Indian Wells triumph three weeks ago. It was the second meeting of the year between Badosa and Sabalenka on Thursday night. During the summer at the Western & Southern Open, Badosa fought back from 1-3 down in the final set to overcome the Belarusian, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 in the second round.
Their first meeting in Cincinnati might have yielded a 2 hour and 20 minute thriller, but Badosa found quick solutions on Thursday night to register her fourth Top 5 win of the season. However, it was not all easy for the Spaniard, as she had to overcome a difficult start on the night. After getting broken to 2-4, the 23-year-old bounced right back. The match turned on its head when Sabalenka had two game points to build a 5-2 lead at 40-15. However, a forehand error and double fault took the game to deuce. Badosa saved a third game point before two more Sabalenka forehand errors gave the break back to Badosa.
“After I lost the serve, I was really disappointed in myself and emotionally I was, like, really crazy,” Sabalenka said after the match. “I couldn’t just stop myself and kind of put myself back in the match.” There was no stopping Badosa after that. With Sabalenka’s frustration growing, as she started to make a flurry of unforced errors, Badosa maintained the baseline pressure. The Spaniard sealed her stunning comeback, winning the last 10 games of the match without a reply.
Badosa ended the match with 14 winners to 19 unforced errors and also converted all five of her break points. In contrast, Sabalenka went 1-for-7 on break points. Asked about the adjustments she made after 4-2, Badosa said, “In that moment maybe I was playing a little bit waiting what could happen and didn’t want to miss. Sometimes the more you doubt in these conditions, the more you miss. So in that moment I accept the moment.”
“I wasn’t happy with my service game. I said to myself, ‘OK, now you have to be as her level, aggressive, because she was being very aggressive.’ I wanted to play against her. Let’s see how it goes. Even though maybe it could go well, it could go bad. That’s what I did. I said, Now you have to change, stop waiting for her miss and go for it. That’s what I did.”
Next up for Badosa is a difficult contest against Maria Sakkari. The Greek star defeated Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-4 earlier in the day. “I think she played a very good match today,” Badosa said. “I think the conditions were OK for her, as well. She felt quite good on court. I expect a tough match.
“It’s a little bit different than today, different match. Going to be maybe more tactic. But it’s challenging. I like the challenge. Every match is going to be tough. Every match is going to be a battle. It’s the last tournament of the year. I’m ready for it and ready to give everything every match.”