“Nothing is impossible” Indian Wells champion Badosa reflects on Indian Wells breakout

A former junior Grand Slam winner, Paula Badosa found it difficult to deal with the early expectations from her. Slowly and surely, the 23-year-old Spaniard is coming into her own and becoming a force on the women’s tour

Paula Badosa of Spain at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open WTA 1000 tennis tournament Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Spain’s Paula Badosa said that her surprising run to the BNP Paribas Open title has shown her that nothing is impossible, coming after the 23-year-old admitted going through depression early on in her career and undergoing a hard quarantine after contracting COVID-19 at this year’s Australian Open.

Badosa defeated former world No 1 and two-time Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 in a hard-fought three-hour three-minute battle, which many have described as the best women’s match of the season.

Last September, Badosa had been ranked 87th in the world but on Monday, she climbed to No 13 after her win in a breakout season which also saw her win the Belgrade title, reach the semi-finals in Madrid and Charleston, and the quarter-finals of the French Open.

“I think the first thing that I’ve learned this week is that nothing is impossible. If you fight, if you work, after all these years, you can achieve anything. That’s the first message that I see that could happen. And to dream. Sometimes you have tough moments. In my case I have been through tough moments. I never stopped dreaming. That’s what kept me working hard and believing until the last moment. Today was the same, so I’m really proud of it.”

Badosa had tested positive to coronavirus during the pre-Australian Open hard quarantine period and was forced to spend 21 days in isolation at the start of the year. No one back then, not even the Spaniard, could have predicted her rise up the ranks over the season.

“This year I had, of course, a roller-coaster year, disappointments and everything. But after all I’ve been through in my life, it wasn’t disappointment. That’s the good part. When you suffer a lot, when you’re young, when you have a little bit of disappointment, you don’t feel it like that. So that’s the good part of what happened this year. Of course, I have bad moments. But compared to the things I’ve been through, it’s nothing. For me it’s okay (smiling).”

“I’ve never thought that in one year after I will be (No)13. Of course, I never thought that would happen that fast and I would have this year because I think it’s amazing. I think I worked very hard in the pre-season. Maybe I didn’t have the best results in January, February, in the first months, but I knew I was working very well and I knew results would come. I never expected this. I’m very happy what’s happening. I’m a little bit still in shock what happened today because winning a tournament like this, it’s always been a dream.”

I think the toughest thing when you’re a good junior are the expectations

Paula Badosa

Badosa won the French Open juniors title in 2015 and had spoken about the pressure that came with the early expectations from her being one of the key reasons for her struggles early on in her career.

“I think the toughest thing when you’re a junior and you’re a good junior are the expectations. People think that when you’re a good junior, next year you have to be a top-20 player or top-10 player. You have a lot of expectations. People put a lot of pressure on you. I think the key is to have a good team and to work day by day, to not listen a lot, and to make it simple. Sometimes we complicate things. And to enjoy. Of course, it’s very complicated. A lot of people were texting me today, Try to enjoy the final. I was like, Yes, I wish (smiling). “

Paula Badosa and Victoria Azarenka after the 2021 Indian Wells final
Paula Badosa and Victoria Azarenka after the 2021 Indian Wells final – Zuma / Panoramic

The Spaniard added she is now focusing on finding a balance tennis and other aspects of her life, which has made her happier off the court and a better player on it.

“We went to play golf, went to have dinner at nice places, we went shopping. I was very focused on the matches and the practice. But then we had a little bit of everything. I think that’s very important because in my past, I was like all day in my room but not all the time happy. I thought that was like being professional. I think you have to try to find the balance on that because if you don’t enjoy outside, it’s impossible to have good results. I think my team is doing a very good job on that.”

The Spaniard also revealed added that she has been working with a sports psychologist as well and is doing a better job of managing the pressure and expectations that come with her pro career.

“I’ve worked with a lot of them. I think it’s very important in tennis. Maybe, I don’t know, 80, 70% is mental. I think it’s very important toward that part. I’ve worked everything: the expectations, the pressure. Now I’m working with him to try to find the balance of hard work, and as I said before, enjoy. I think that’s why I’m winning so many matches. That’s why I’m having a good year because I found that balance. I have like my work time, I do that 100%, but then I have time to turn off mentally. I think that’s a little bit the key.”

Badosa is now ranked No 8 in the Race to the WTA Finals and said her next event will depend on whether she needs to earn more points to secure her spot in the season-ending finale.

“It depends because now of course it’s a goal to go to the WTA Finals. If I’m in, I’m going to rest until, I don’t know, maybe I want to play a Fed Cup. I will try to play that. Then, of course, the Finals. If I’m not 100% in, maybe I will play in Cluj-Napoca. I don’t know. I hope I’m in and maybe I can rest some days (smiling).”

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