Badosa fires a warning shot with her Caja Mágica opener

Antonio Arenas Mutua News, Tennis, Women's Tennis

The newly anointed No. 2 in the WTA Rankings played her first match as such with a resounding performance at the Mutua Madrid Open. Paula Badosa feels at home in the Caja Mágica and she proved it on Thursday with her first match, beating Veronika Kudermetova in two sets (6-3, 6-0) after one hour and four minutes of tennis.

The Madrid WTA 1000 was something of a turning point for the Catalonian player in 2021. She arrived on a wildcard and became the first Spaniard to reach the event’s penultimate round. Now the favourite for the title after the withdrawal through injury of world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Badosa enchanted the fans in the Manolo Santana Stadium, where she continued her form from her semi-final finish in Stuttgart. The Spaniard strung together the last nine games to send her opponent packing.

In the first set, after 40 minutes, Badosa started to turn the screw by breaking Kudermetova’s service in the eight game and saved five break points in the third, fifth and ninth (6-3). The second seed then looked much more at ease and sealed her victory by winning the second set to love in just 24 minutes of tennis (6-0) that was true to her solid and aggressive style.

“Madrid is heaven”

Badosa used these words to define her love affair with the #MMOPEN after her first victory at this year’s event. “I’m very happy to be back in Madrid, it’s very special for me because it’s where I started to move forward in my career. I have great memories and I love playing with these fans, which makes it even more special”, admitted the WTA’s second-ranked player.

Badosa said also that at the beggining of the match “I was nervous, but then I finished playing in a very high level”, adding about Kudermetova that “she’saggressive. I knew I had to play my game, not to let her dominate a lot. So that’s what I tried to do”.

To complete the trampoline effect that the Girona native experienced in the Caja Mágica twelve months ago, after which she went on to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, won in Indian Wells and was a finalist at the Akron WTA Finals in Guadalajara, her dream would be “to be able to win this tournament one day”.

If it is to be this year, Badosa will have to get past another obstacle on Saturday in the form of Simona Halep. The Romanian, who already knows what it is to win in the Spanish capital (2016 and 2017), cruised through her first-round clash with Chinese player Shuai Zhang (6-2, 6-3) in one hour and eight minutes.

“It’ll be a very tough match. It could be the final in any tournament. I think it’s going to be quite a clay court match very tactically, and I’m really looking forward to that. I will try to give my best, because for sure she will push me to the limits. I’ll need all the fans behind me”, acknowledged the home player of her next encounter.