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“Tour soulmates” Paula Badosa, Aryna Sabalenka reflect on budding friendship at US Open
The big-hitting extroverts and fellow former No. 2s had a meet-cute after a chance doubles pairing and "Sabadosa" have been inseparable ever since.
Published Aug 31, 2022
WATCH: Sabadosa reunited after their Miami Open debut to win their first round at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
Aryna Sabalenka had always been wary of that Paula Badosa—at least until they met.
“I remember I saw her for the first time and thought she’s a superstar and that she was acting like she’s bigger than everybody,” recalls the former world No. 2 in Flushing Meadows, outstretching her arms for emphasis.
It turns out fellow former No. 2 Badosa felt the same way about her Belarusian rival, and it only took a chance doubles partnership in Miami for these cool colleagues to become the warmest of friends.
“I hope she said positive things,” joked the Spaniard when told she’d come up in Sabalenka’s press US Open conference on Tuesday.
“We both had, like, the same perception from both of us at the beginning because we didn't know us, know each other. But then I got to know her and I saw she's super nice with a big heart and very humble. That's what I really like to see, players like that.”
And thus, “Sabadosa” was born. The two have teamed up twice since, most recently pushing Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula through two sets in Madrid.
“I would say she’s like my soulmate on the tour,” admits Sabakenka, who enjoyed a straightforward US Open-er against Catherine Harrison. “I found that she’s pretty similar to me; we have the same character and reactions to things.
“If you look at her, you might think that she’s standoffish or self-involved, but she’s so different in reality!”
On a tour long dominated by introverts like Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, and Iga Swiatek, Badosa and Sabalenka are holding it down for the extroverts, playing games as big as their personalities.
“We talk a lot,” said Badosa. “We try to spend time. To be honest, we have one dinner scheduled here in New York. Let's see if we can make it happen. It's nice to spend time with friends as well off-court.”
Though Badosa and Sabalenka haven’t been back on the doubles court this summer, they’ve found ways of keeping in touch at tournaments, including a Positivity Postcard exchange in Canada.
“I know who this is from,” says Badosa, who reads, “‘Hey girl. Good luck here: You’re the best!’
"She’s the best!”
The feeling is definitely mutual.