Paula Badosa arrives at this Mutua Madrid Open in resplendent form. After reaching the semi-finals in Stuttgart, the Spaniard climbed to No. 2 in the WTA Rankings for the first time in her career, and this week in the Caja Mágica will mark her first appearance playing in that lofty position. “It looks very different, it’s completely different to being number 70. You’re much more exposed, you’re under pressure as a favourite”, she said. Quoting Serena William’s phrase ‘pressure is a privilege’, Badosa called being among the best in the world a ‘problem’, in inverted commas, and admitted that she has to “learn to manage it because everything’s gone so quickly”.
Badosa will play her opener at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open tomorrow against world number 25 Veronika Kudermetova. It will not be an easy match for the Spaniard, who has a record of three defeats and just one win over the Russian. Badosa called the clash “very difficult and very complicated” and asked for all the support she can get tomorrow in the Manolo Santana Stadium: “I’m going to have to adapt to the conditions of centre court very quickly and I’m going to try, between me, my team and the fans, to get through the match”.
Her opening encounter against Kudermetova will be the first of many hurdles if the Spaniard wants to get her hands on the trophy. Simona Halep, Ons Jabeur, defending champion Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova are all on her side of the draw and will be tough nuts to crack en route to the final. “I’m going to have very tough matches from the start, but I’m ready, I’ve played a lot of matches and I really can’t wait to play at home”, she said.
On the opposite side of the draw, one notable player will be missing as world number 1 Iga Swiatek has withdrawn from this year’s Mutua Madrid Open without playing a point due to a shoulder injury. “I would have met her in the final, and to reach the final I have to treat every match like a final. I have to look at my side because it’s very tough and hopefully I’ll have the problem of being in the final”, Badosa added in this regard.
The Spaniard is defending her semi-final result from 2021, when she came to Madrid as a wildcard and ended up winning the hearts of the fans in the Caja Mágica. It was an event that she says gave her the confidence in herself to keep growing as a player and that she has particular affection for the courts: “the ‘Arantxa’ has a special place in my heart, I had some amazing matches there. But obviously playing on centre court is even more special and I can’t wait to start there tomorrow”.