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Paula Badosa proves a player for all surfaces after Wimbledon effort, epic win over Linette
The Roland Garros quarterfinalist shook off a heartbreaking defeat in Paris to translate her booming game to the grass.
Published Jul 03, 2021
WATCH: Paula Badosa chatted with Tennis Channel Live after reaching her first major QF in Paris.
Relief flashed across Paula Badosa’s face when the last ball from Magda Linette flew long. She let out an exasperated exhale and slowly approached the net after a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 epic, one that not only put her into the second week of Wimbledon but also proved her to be a player for all surfaces.
“I wanted to show people I was not only a clay-court player,” the No. 30 seed said in her post-match press conference. “That was a little bit of my goal, so I’m really happy to be able to play very good at tennis. I hope I can keep going like this.”
The former Roland Garros junior champion enjoyed a revelatory European swing that saw her reach back-to-back semifinals in Charleston and Madrid before capturing her first WTA title in Belgrade. A heavy favorite to match that result in Paris, she endured a bitter defeat to giant-killer Tamara Zidansek—who had, for her part, already upset Bianca Andreescu and turned around her share of dramatic matches.
Badosa initially took little solace from that.
“It was a tough one,” she reflected on Saturday. “It took me some days to recover from that, but when I was able to see some things with perspective, I know it was a very good clay-court season and a very good Roland Garros. It maybe came down to two points, that match, and she played calmer than me. Maybe I was too nervous.”
Another titanic defeat came in Eastbourne to Elina Svitolina at the end of a third-set tiebreak, but the 23-year-old has reset in impressive fashion at the All England Club.
“I think I’m very focused on the first shots, especially on the serve and return,” she explained of her grass-court tactics. “The first days, that was a little bit tough because I was struggling with that. It was a big change moving to grass and I wasn’t feeling that well. I think I’m moving quite well on grass; I know it’s complicated to move on this surface but I’m trying to do it pretty well. I’m also playing my game and being aggressive.
“Of course, I’m not going to lose that I play on clay, on hard-courts or grass; I’m trying to do most of the same things, but just be a bit more aggressive and going more for my shots.”
I’m trying to improve day by day and change the things I’m not doing that well on that day so I can do them better the next. Paula Badosa
She navigated an awkward encounter with good friend Aliona Bolsova for a maiden Wimbledon match and leapfrogged an always dangerous Yulia Putintseva to book what had been hyped to be a rematch with Svitolina.
Instead she faced Linette, the Ukrainian’s conqueror who was into her sixth Grand Slam third round. Looking to finally break through on a big stage, the Pole reeled off the final four games of the opening set following a rain delay and led 3-0 in the decider before Badosa shut the door with a barrage of big forehands.
"Magda played amazing tennis today, especially in the third set. I kept fighting until the last moment like I always try to do, and I never lost faith in the match. That’s what really gave me the match, because I think I played very good in the last games and in the important moments of the third set.”
Into her third Grand Slam second week out of the last four, Badosa is on the brink of a Top 30 debut but her road hardly gets easier against next opponent Karolina Muchova, a quarterfinalist at SW19 in 2019.
“There are always expectations. Maybe I wasn’t expecting to make the second week, but other days I thought I could do this. I was feeling confident and from Day 1, I was believing in every match. I knew I had a chance and that I was playing well, so I’m happy to be through to the second week. I know I’ll have a tough match next because Karolina plays very good on grass. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Having twice overcome heartbreaking ends to her major campaigns—lest we forget her Australian Open fortnight was hijacked by a bout with COVID-19—Badosa continues to grow from adversity and a career far more tumultuous than her smile suggests, aspiring for even greater as the summer unfolds.
“I’m learning every day. I learned from that match—I think I learned a lot [in Paris]—and I also learned from my first match a few days ago, where I was also nervous playing my first round at a Grand Slam. I’m trying to improve day by day and change the things I’m not doing that well on that day so I can do them better the next.”