World No. 9 Paula Badosa will head into the Australian Open with a major boost this year after winning one of the biggest lead-up tournaments—the Sydney Tennis Classic, a WTA 500 event—on Saturday night.

There was very little between Badosa and fellow Top 10 player Barbora Krejcikova in the final, though just like in her semifinal match—in which she saved seven match points to sneak past Anett Kontaveit—the No. 4-ranked Krejcikova was able to claw her way out of a few tricky situations.

Badosa seemed like she was closing in on a straight-set victory in the second set with Krejcikova serving at 3-6, 3-4, 0-15, but the Czech held, broke and held again to take it to a third set. Then, she had to serve to stay in the match twice in the decider, at 4-5 and 5-6.

But once it got to the third set tie-break Badosa caught fire one last time, winning five of six points from 2-1 down to build triple match point at 6-3, and after Krejcikova fought one of them off with a barrage of big groundstrokes that ultimately drew an error from Badosa, the Spaniard rifled a backhand down the line on her second match point that the Czech couldn’t get back into the court, closing out the 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4) victory after two hours and 22 minutes on court.

Badosa improved to 3-0 in her career in WTA finals, having won two titles last year—a WTA 250 on clay in Belgrade in May, and then her most famous victory so far, capturing the WTA 1000 title in Indian Wells in October.

The Spaniard is also 3-0 against Krejcikova now, having beaten the Roland Garros champion at both Madrid and Indian Wells last year, and both times by an identical scoreline of 6-1, 7-5.

Badosa will play her first Grand Slam as a Top 10 player at the Australian Open over the next two weeks, having just broken into the elite last November.

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Badosa will play her first Grand Slam as a Top 10 player at the Australian Open.

Badosa will play her first Grand Slam as a Top 10 player at the Australian Open.

Despite falling at the final hurdle, it was still a great week for Krejcikova in Sydney. She came into the week on a five-match losing streak, having lost her last five matches of 2021—a streak that actually began with her loss to Badosa in the fourth round of Indian Wells. She also snapped a five-match losing streak against Top 10 players with her heroic 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (12) win over No. 7-ranked Kontaveit in the semifinals.

Krejcikova and Badosa could play each other again in a week and a half, as they’re projected to clash in the quarterfinals in Melbourne—Krejcikova is the No. 4 seed there, Badosa the No. 8 seed. They both have their work cut out for them to get to the final eight, though, with Elina Svitolina and Victoria Azarenka among the players Krejcikova could face before that, and Badosa’s path potentially including Sofia Kenin, Coco Gauff or Adelaide champion Madison Keys.