Paula Badosa is in the midst of her best career result. The Spanish player progressed to the semi-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday to become the only home player to reach the penultimate round of the women’s competition in the Caja Mágica.
The Girona native, who is in the main draw thanks to an invitation from the organisers, beat Belinda Bencic in the Arantxa Sánchez Stadium in two sets (6-4, 7-5) after one hour and 49 minutes of play. She now has a first final on the WTA Tour into her sights, having failed to win her semis this year in Lyon and Charleston.
It was at the US tournament where the two players played their only previous match, when Badosa defeated the Swiss in three sets. This time, the world No. 62 dominated from the start, earning a break in the third game of the tie (2-1) and was in a position to double her advantage in the seventh, but the eighth seed pulled level (4-4).
The player coached by Javier Martí held her nerve, committing only seven unforced errors to Bencic’s 19, allowing her to break her opponent’s serve again to close out the set (6-4). At the start of the second, the 2015 Junior French Open champion made it four games in a row against that event’s 2013 winner (2-0).
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 5, 2021
It looked as if Badosa would extend her run with a chance at a double break but the WTA No. 11 turned the situation on its head by producing some of her best tennis (2-3). It was then that the fans were treated to the best rallies of the match as they levelled the scores at five games a-piece.
It was a similar story to the first set, with the Spanish wildcard putting her foot down to prevent the 2019 semi-finalist from equalling that performance this year (7-5). She now awaits the winner of the encounter between world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and three-time champion of the tournament Petra Kvitova.
This was the Catalonian’s fourth win at the #MMOPEN having also left in her wake the Czech Barbora Krejcikova (6-1, 7-5) and produced two spectacular comebacks against Swiss player Jil Teichmann (5-7, 6-1, 6-2) and the Latvian Anastasija Sevastova (6-7 (0), 7-6 (3), 6-0) .
The result means Badosa has raised the bar set by Spanish players before her on the Madrid clay, surpassing the quarter-finals reached by Anabel Medina in 2013, who lost to Serena Williams (6-3, 0-6, 7-5), and Carla Suárez twice. The Canary Islander lost in 2015 also to the American ex-world No. 1 (6-1, 6-3) and in 2018 to French player Caroline Garcia (6-2, 6-3).