Paula Badosa is on the verge of advancing to the semifinals of the WTA Finals after outslugging Maria Sakkari on Saturday, 7-6 (4), 6-4, thus improving to 2-0 in Group Chichen Itza, and 4-0 in sets—she beat Aryna Sabalenka in her first match, 6-4, 6-0.

Sabalenka plays Iga Swiatek tonight, and Badosa will qualify for the semifinals if Sabalenka wins that match OR if Swiatek wins the match in three sets.

So basically, if Sabalenka wins a set tonight, Badosa is into the final four.

The first set between Badosa and Sakkari on Saturday could have gone either way.

Badosa was the first to draw blood, winning three games in a row—and 12 of 13 points at one point—to jump ahead, 5-2. Sakkari clawed back to 5-all, though, and after two more holds, the two went to a tie-break. Badosa again jumped ahead, 5-1, but Sakkari (again) fought back, winning three of the next four points to shrink the deficit to 6-4—but Badosa ripped a forehand winner on the run on the next point to sneak out the set.

The second set went much like the first set, with Badosa building a 4-2 lead but Sakkari catching up to 4-all—this time Badosa broke again right away for a 5-4 lead, though, and after Sakkari fought off her first two match points, the Spaniard sealed the deal on her third match point with a big crosscourt backhand winner.

“I think the key to winning was to fight as well, same as her,” Badosa said in her on-court interview. “I’m a competitor, I like to compete, I like the important moments.

“And then I had to stay very aggressive. Here it’s tough—with the altitude it’s always really tough to control it, but you have to stay aggressive, and I did. I was focused and fighting a lot, and that was the game plan today.”

Badosa's win over Sakkari was her 43rd win of the year, passing Ashleigh Barty for fifth-most on the women's tour.

Badosa's win over Sakkari was her 43rd win of the year, passing Ashleigh Barty for fifth-most on the women's tour.


Badosa was playing Sakkari for the first time, too.

“I enjoyed it—I suffered at the same time, but I knew I was going to suffer against a player like Maria,” she said. “She’s an amazing fighter, and I totally understand when I hear Maria’s name in the crowd, it’s normal because she’s an amazing player!”

The Spaniard finished the match with a positive differential of winners to unforced errors, 23 to 22, including 10 aces to 6 double faults. Meanwhile, Sakkari’s numbers went in the opposite direction—she had 25 winners to 49 unforced errors on the day.

Badosa has now extended her winning streak to eight matches in a row, going 6-0 to win the biggest title of her career at Indian Wells and going 2-0 so far here.

The Spaniard's win over the No. 6-ranked Sakkari also improved her record against Top 10 players this year to 6-3—she was 0-3 against them coming into this year.