At Home On Clay, Badosa Thriving In Spain

Paula Badosa (photo: @MutuaMadridOpen/Twitter)

MADRID/WASHINGTON, May 2, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Wild card Paula Badosa of Spain has been thriving on the red clay in La Caja Mágica this week at the WTA 1000 Mutua Madrid Open. In Spain, on her favorite surface, she’s truly at home.

On Saturday, the 62nd-ranked Badosa advanced into the third round for the first time with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 40 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland. Just three days into the tournament, the 23-year-old Spaniard is the only one from her country remaining in the women’s main draw following the injury withdrawal before the start of the tournament by Spain’s top player, World No. 13 Garbiñe Muguruza, and the first-round defeat by Spain’s No. 2, 46th-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo to World No. 3 Simona Halep. She’s also the only wild card remaining in the main draw.

Against Teichmann, Badosa hit 24 winners and converted eight of 13 break-point chances. She outpointed her opponent 93-79.

During a virtual interview shortly after her victory Saturday night, Badosa told Tennis TourTalk that playing in the Mutua Madrid Open in her home country and in Spain’s biggest tennis stadium “means a lot” to her.

“I love this tournament,” she said. “It’s my favorite tournament. I love to play on clay. I’m feeling good and having good feelings playing on this clay court.”

Badosa’s Saturday match against Teichmann was placed on Manolo Santana Stadium, La Caja Mágica’s biggest show court. She rose to the occasion.

How did Badosa, who has been lights out on clay this year – going 6-1 (losing only to Veronika Kudermetova) – handle playing in front of Spanish fans? “Today, I felt a little bit nervous. I knew it was going to be a tough match – Jil is an amazing player. But then, I found myself, I found my tennis. I started playing more aggressively. It went very well and I’m super happy.”

When Tennis TourTalk asked Badosa if she’s feeling any extra pressure being the last Spanish woman in the singles draw, with Muguruza and Sorribes Tormo out, or if she accepts the challenge and see where it takes her, she said: “I accept the challenge. I think I [already] have pressure being here. If Garbiñe didn’t have to withdraw or Sara kept winning, I would still feel the same pressure because when you’re on the court, on the Centre Court, with all the people who want you to win, you feel the pressure there; it’s a little bit tough to control the emotions.I’m doing it quite well.

“Today, I started quite nervous. The Centre Court is bigger and you have a different feeling. I had to get used to it. But I’m happy I’m controlling these things very good.”

Badosa will face unseeded, 54th-ranked Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in Monday’s third round for a place in the quarterfinals.

A day of upsets at Mutua Madrid Open qualifying

Only five of 14 seeds remain as the second and final day of qualifying for seven berths in the main draw of the ATP Masters 1000 Mutua Madrid Open.

No. 2 seed Yoshihito Nishioka is the highest remaining seed following his 6-4, 6-4 win over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. That’s because No. 1 seed Laslo Djere of Serbia was upset by Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Other seeds to advance include: No. 7 Stefanos Tavaglia, No. 10 Alexei Popyrin, No. 12 Federico Delbonis and No. 13 Pablo Andújar. Among the other upsets of note, No. 3 Jordan Thompson, No. 4 Tennys Sandgren and No. 5 Frances Tiafoe all went down to defeat as did No. 6 Sebastian Korda, who lost to wild card Arthur Cazaux.

Men’s Main draw begins play Sunday

Sunday is opening day of the main draw for the ATP Masters 1000 Mutua Madrid Open in the Spanish capital city. Among those who are in action: No. 11 seed Denis Shapovalov against Dusan Lajovic, wild card Pedro Martinez against Tommy Paul, Marton Fucsovics versus Alexander Bublik and Alex de Minaur taking on Jaume Munar. Meanwhile, the lower half of the women’s singles draw plays its second-round matches.

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