Fairytales came true for Paula Badosa at Indian Wells



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Fairytales came true for Paula Badosa at Indian Wells

"I remember when I was 14, 15 years old seeing you...I told my coach 'One day I hope I can play like her," Paula Badosa smilingly said to Victoria Azarenka after winning the Indian Wells title 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.

Time might have stood still for the Spanish player who struggled for over three hours to do the victory over her idol from Belarus. "Finally this is a dream come true," she said with a big grin. Five months ago Badosa was awarded her first WTA title at the Serbia Ladies Open when opponent Ana Konjuh had to retire in the second set giving the match and title to her feisty Spanish competitor.

But things weren't so easy during the season when in many tournaments she would only go a few rounds before losing and had to pack and head to the next event. She had to endure a 20-day plus quarantine after proving positive for the coronavirus.

It was soon afterwards that working to regain her game strategies was the major goal. She had made a few semifinals and went through three grand slams leading up to her triumph in the Desert at Indian Wells. Paula Badosa's battle to do well at California was obvious as she struggled to sharpen her game against the teen Coco Gauff, the veteran Angelique Kerber and then the tough and determined Tunisian Ons Jabeur.

The New York City born-Spain raised player had only dropped one set the entire tournament until she dug out her tactics in the final with Victoria Azarenka. Badosa had to prove not only to her tough competitors but to herself that she should be the winner of this Desert tournament and she did wholeheartedly.

In the first set, Paula showed shine and resistance as she'd won a close tiebreak over Belarus with her crucial stinging cross courts which had sealed the set. But the Spaniard appeared to either get overconfident or nervous and took her foot off the gas when entering the second set.

Azarenka became tough, at times visibly talking to herself to win 6-2. The decisive set was drama-filled with suspense as the score went to 4-all, the Spaniard overhitting shots and making major blunders giving the 5-4 lead to Azarenka.

The points had gone back and forth as a tiebreak would determine the winner. Badosa had gone up 3-0 in tiebreak points and it looked promising, then Azarenka bounced back with excellent shotmaking at times, then unforced errors at others.

Badosa played gritty and defiant tennis enough to hit the last impressive winning shot to gain her second title. She'd fall down to her knees in traditional fashion then came up crying from the joy of winning the nerve-wracking match.

"She played the best when it mattered the most," Lindsay Davenport, commentator and the former player had explained. Victoria Azarenka, a veteran and idol to Paul Badosa has a heavy resume of 41 career finals.

She looked at it all as hard work but yet fun and satisfying playing the Desert tournament. After the match Azarenka congratulated Badosa's team and said the Spaniard played a "very well deserved match." When it came to the champion's turn at the podium she was more relieved that everything was over.

She hadn't been used to acceptance speeches and smiled saying "It's my first time talking so I hope I don't forget anything." Paula Badosa's ranking will now be in the top 20 and she's surely gained the respect and admiration from players and fans. She gave a slight grin and holding on to her glass trophy said, "I really felt your love out here."