WTA

Badosa denies Azarenka a slice of history with gruelling Indian Wells final triumph

By Sports Desk October 17, 2021

Paula Badosa denied Victoria Azarenka a slice of WTA Indian Wells Open history as the former world number one failed to become the first three-time winner of the singles event after defeat in Sunday's gruelling final.

Azarenka, also a winner in 2012 and 2016, had to come back from a set and a break down in the semi-final, and for a while looked like good preparation for the battle that Badosa provided.

But in the end Badosa prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 7-6 (7-2) after three hours, four minutes on court, securing only her second title in what was just her second final of the season while becoming the first Spanish woman to claim the title in Indian Wells.

A highly competitive start saw a combined total of nine break points go to waste in the first four games alone, and when Azarenka did finally lose a service game to go 4-3 down, she emphatically hit back at the first time of asking.

She had no option but to repeat that feat soon after when Badosa broke again to take a 6-5 lead, and she duly obliged to set up a tie-break.

But Badosa got the better of two-time grand slam champion Azarenka in the tie-break, despite the latter overturning a four-point deficit to go level at 5-5.

Azarenka appeared re-energised at the start of the second set, though, charging into a 3-0 lead inside 11 minutes, her level of intensity suddenly leagues ahead of her opponent's.

Badosa only showed brief glimpses of her ability and Azarenka had few issues levelling the match, her class on full display in the fifth game as she read a wide drop shot and replied with a sensational cross-court effort.

After such a colossal fight to get back on level terms it was perhaps to be expected that Azarenka would drop off a little early on in the decider, but a bad miss from Badosa allowed the Belarussian to recover from a break and she consolidated to tie the set at 2-2.

The pair continued to slog it out thereafter with neither woman giving an inch, Badosa's often-brutal power countered nicely by Azarenka's athleticism.

But Badosa was her own worst enemy as she overhit two shots to allow Azarenka to get what looked likely to be the decisive break, but the 32-year-old failed to serve out the match and, perhaps predictably, a tie-break ultimately beckoned.

Badosa's energy reserves suddenly looked far deeper than her opponent's as she moved her around the court with almost surgical precision, her eventual 7-2 win in the tie-break speaking to the ferocity she displayed to win the comfortably biggest title of her career to date.

Related items

  • Conflicted Fritz thinks there would be no 'harm' in Djokovic competing at the US Open Conflicted Fritz thinks there would be no 'harm' in Djokovic competing at the US Open

    Taylor Fritz believes there would be no "harm" in Novak Djokovic competing at the US Open, although the American admits he is conflicted about whether he should be allowed.

    Wimbledon champion Djokovic has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

    US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding COVID-19 protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

    For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

    Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

    With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors. 

    And Fritz, ranked 13th in the world, said that while the situation is complicated, there is part of him that thinks Djokovic should be allowed to take part in the competition that starts in under a fortnight.

    "It's tough," he said. "I think on one side of it, I think it's tough to make certain exceptions to the rules for certain people.

    "I don't know how I feel about that, but then, at the same time, we're not the most COVID-safe country in general with how we are doing things.

    "So it does seem like, what's the harm of letting the best player in the world come play the US Open?

    "But like I said, at the same time, it's conflicting, because I don't know how I feel about making special exceptions just for one person because of who they are.

    "So I see both sides of the argument, to be honest. It's tough to differentiate, obviously. It's good for every player if Novak is not in the draw."

  • Halep withdraws from Western & Southern Open through injury Halep withdraws from Western & Southern Open through injury
  • Physically, I feel good - Kawhi Leonard shares update as Clippers step up NBA season preparations Physically, I feel good - Kawhi Leonard shares update as Clippers step up NBA season preparations

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard says he feels good as he closes in on his long-awaited return from injury ahead of the 2022-23 NBA season.

    The two-time NBA Finals MVP missed the entire of the last campaign due to an ACL injury sustained in game four of the 2021 Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Utah Jazz. 

    The Clippers certainly felt Leonard's absence as they missed out on the play-offs, losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans in the play-in tournament.

    The small forward averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and a career-high 5.2 assists per game in the 2020-21 regular season, having averaged a personal best of 27.1 points the previous term - his first with the Clippers.

    In a compilation video posted on the franchise's social media channels, which featured several clips of him in the gym, Leonard could be heard saying: "Physically, I feel good."

    The 31-year-old will hope to make his return when the Clippers launch their 2022-23 campaign against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 20.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.