TENNIS – Six years after winning Roland Garros as a junior, Spaniard Paula Badosa is into her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Badosa only achieved a seeding when Alison Riske withdrew, but her form on clay this year suggests she is worthy of that. Clay is her favourite surface and she had the highest clay winning percentage on tour, at 86.7% (13-2), when the tournament started. Her four wins in Paris brings that up to 89.4%.
Badosa has had a number of semi-final runs. In Lyon, her first of the season. In Charleston, her first at the WTA 500 level, with a first win against a Top 20 player (Belinda Bencic) and first over a reigning No.1 (Ashleigh Barty). And in Belgrade she won her first WTA title.
Now, her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
What does her coach say?
“Paula was playing as the underdog, but in these last weeks she has to switch to the opposite role for many of her matches,” her coach Javier Marti told reporters.
“In women’s tennis there are lots of surprises when it comes to results. A player ranked 80, 90 in the world can play at top-10 level.
“This has helped Paula to realise that it doesn’t matter the ranking of the player she is facing. The objective for us, for every match, is to go out and give 100%, that she followed the plan, tried out what we have discussed.
“That’s the only thing that matters. I understand the outside expectations given her recent results, but we focus on something different.”
The next big thing
Following her 2015 Junior win at the French Open, Badosa has had to deal with the pressure of expectation. What will help is her coach, Marti, had to deal with similar pressures when he was hailed as ‘the next Nadal’ in 2012.
“I think that Javi and I have gone through quite similar trajectories,” Badosa told Spanish reporters after the fourth round. “At the time when we were young, they compared him with Rafa Nadal and me with Sharapova. Then at 17, 18, 19 years old, managing all that pressure and expectations is not easy when your head is not prepared to endure certain expectations. So I think it will help me a lot to manage expectations because what is clear is that when I arrived here the first day there were expectations.
“We have managed that very well. He has helped me a lot and if I am managing it well now it is thanks to him, because he understands me 100%, and it is good that a person, my coach in this case has experienced something similar so that. He understands me better right now, [playing] with so much pressure.”
Badosa made good on her expectations Sunday with a win over 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
She will play Zidansek in the quarter-finals, one of her junior contemporaries. The two have not met each other on court since the semifinals of the 2014 European Junior Championships.