Spaniard Paula Badosa outclass two-time grand slam and Indian wells champion Belarus Victoria Azarenka in 3 hour epic in WTA Indian Wells USA 2021 – By Sunil Thenabadu (eLanka sports editor)
Photo source AFP
The WTA Indian Wells Masters also know as the Indian Wells Open and BNP Paribas open is an annual tennis tournament usually held in early in the year mid-March owing to the Covid epidemic was held this year uninterrupted from October 6th to October 17,is a WTA masters 1000 event on the women’s tour.
The tournament commenced between 1974 and 1976 as non-tour event as a secondary tournament of the Grand Prix tennis tour but in year 1987. it was upgraded to be part of the Grand Prix Super Series.This tournament is just below the four majors with almost all female ranked players 96 players participating in a 128-player grid with the 32 seeded players granted a bye to the second round.
The tournament is played on hardcourt is believed to be the best attended tennis tournament outside the four grand slam tournaments. It is hence called the FIFTH grand slam tournament which is very gruelling for players who win the first few rounds up to the semis and finals.The prize money to players this year amounted US$ 9,146,125 which is a huge amount next to what is offered in Grand slam events.
In this years tournament several grand slam champions like Kivitova,,Stephens.Krejackova, Muguruza,Ostapenko,Kerber,Andreescu,Raduccanu and Azarenka participated.Also many seeded payers too participated to make the tournament very competitive.However Spaniard Paula Badosa the ultimate champion had not been even in a semi final in a grand slam tournament.
After their semi-final wins in Indian Wells, both Paula Badosa and Victoria Azarenka spoke of the mental toughness it has taken them to get this far.
“I’m believing every point,” Badosa said. “Every day I’m working very hard as well.”
Azarenka had a more holistic assessment to her season.
Victoria Azarenka added “I feel like right now I’m a bit more settled with a bit more structure, a little bit more discipline, which makes it not necessarily easier, but a bit clearer what I need to do,”.
This year’s Indian Wells finalists have had their shares of ups and downs, but both had peaked at the right moment, which predicted to make for one competitive final Sunday in the California desert.
On PAULA Badosa
When No.21 seed Paula Badosa arrived in Indian Wells, some of the wind had been taken out of the sails of her breakthrough season.
There had been an abrupt split from coach Javier Marti, whom she had credited for her rise after the Tokyo Olympic Games. Shoulder issues had made her tough through August and September. She lost in the second round in three of her four tournaments between the Olympics and Indian Wells – to Rebecca Marino in Montréal, Varvara Gracheva at the US Open and Anett Kontaveit in Ostrava.
After navigating a devilish draw to reach her biggest career final, it’s fair to say that Badosa is back – and has showed she can shine without Marti her coach by her side. Her opposition has comprised the full range of tests, and she’s passed each test with flying colours – dropping only one set, to Dayana Yastremska in her opener.
That was followed by a 54-minute lopsided win against Coco Gauff in the American teenager’s favoured environment of a U.S. night session followed by a pair of straight-sets defeats of Grand Slam champions Barbora Krejcikova and Angelique Kerber. And then, against the new top 10 entrant Tunisian Ons Jabaeur in the semi -finals, finding all the answers to the Tunisian’s range of tricks.
Badosa demonstrated her mental toughness in her past three matches. Krejcikova, Kerber and Jabeur all played their best tennis with their backs to the wall, saving match points and threatening comebacks. Badosa held her nerve and closed each one out in straight sets.
Against two-time Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka in the final, Badosa will have the advantage of being a somewhat unknown quantity.
“I’ve never played against Paula,” Azarenka said after her semi-final win. “I’ve never really practiced against her. That would be something, a new challenge for me to even understand her ball, her pace.”
Badosa, by contrast, has grown up watching the Belarusian play big finals: “I know how she’s playing,” she said.
Badosa won her only previous WTA final, in Belgrade in May, via retirement over Ana Konjuh. This time around, she will be eager to get a taste of closing out a championship point. — Alex Macpherson
On Victoria Azarenka two-time grand slam and Indian Wells Champion
Victoria Azarenka will be the first to tell you that things don’t always get as planned. The former World No.1 looked poised for a big 2021 season after her run to the Cincinnati title and US Open final 2021.
Then the two-time Australian Open champion landed in hard quarantine in Melbourne and spent the next eight months trying to find her way. Physically, the 32-year-old champion found her body letting her down. By the time Wimbledon rolled around, she had already been forced to give four walkovers. Unable to put in the work needed to breed confidence, Azarenka struggled to hold leads and close out matches throughout the season. Coming into Indian Wells, she was just 2-4 against Top 20 opposition this season.
Confronted with her own mortality, Azarenka decided it was time to put ego aside and accept that it was time to start adjusting her game.
“I’m looking for things that I can implement that will make it a bit easier for me,” she said. “I’m also not in the beginning of my career to grind every match. It’s not inevitably tougher physically, but from one match to another it adds up. I’m looking how I can be more efficient as a player.”
Efficiency was the name of the game in Indian Wells. She rolled to the semi-finals without losing a set, beating Magda Linette, Petra Kvitova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Jessica Pegula.
“I think my season has been tricky,” Azarenka said. “There were parts where I physically couldn’t necessarily bring that extra level, extra fight, which was very frustrating. Then there were parts where I felt that I was looking for something to add, and I didn’t necessarily know what it was. It was a lot of searching in the season, a lot of stepping into unknown.”
But no matter how much the 27th-seeded Azarenka tweaks her game, the one thing that will never change is her fight, which was on full display in her 3-6, 6-3 7-5 win over Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals. On a night the Latvian Ostapenko struck nearly 50 winners and lead by a set and a break, Azarenka’s tactical acuity and physicality knocked Ostapenko off her game.
Azarenka’s Indian Wells fortnight has been a riveting showcase for precisely what makes the two-time major champion such a feared opponent.
“I’m going to fight until the end,” she said. “If you’re gonna beat me, you have to beat me all the way.”
WTA 1000– SINGLES Indian Wells (USA), hard
Source: FlashScore ( https://www.flashscore.com.au/tennis/wta-singles/indian-wells/ )
(eLanka sports editor)