APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Bouzas’ dream comes true in Madrid

Paula Badosa vs. Jéssica Bouzas Maneiro. We were treated to a spectacular match to open day three’s play on the Manolo Santana centre court. The thrilling encounter was decided in the third set, with the young Bouzas fending off the experienced Paula.

Badosa arrived at the Mutua Madrid Open this week after a challenging year plagued with injuries that have prevented her from maintaining any kind of form. She admitted to the media yesterday that it is not an easy situation to handle as she has been in a lot of pain and it is practically impossible to take to the court without some kind of complaint. However, Paula was a semi-finalist here three years ago and she feels a strong emotional bond with the fans in Madrid. At home, the Spaniard looked capable of resetting and rediscovering her best tennis. In fact, last year she was in a similar situation and managed to see off Cocciaretto and world No. 3 Coco Gauff in a spectacular clash that she won 6-3, 6-0, before eventually bowing out to Maria Sakkari.

For her part, Jessica Bouzas was in the form of her life when she touched down in the Spanish capital. Ten days ago she climbed to her highest ranking after reaching the final of the ITF event in Zaragoza. This week, she is proving that her recent form is no flash in the pan, with two wins in the qualifying round, where she fought off American players Sascha Vickery and Claire Liu. Her biggest test, though, came this morning.

The Galician settled straight into the match in the Manolo Santana Stadium, quickly breaking Badosa’s serve to take a 2-0 lead. The blow was enough to wake the 2021 French Open semi-finalist from her slumber and she began to put her forehand to good use. Coupled with some solid defence, the elder of the two players managed to completely turn the set on its head and stamp her authority on the Vilagarcia native. Paula stormed her way through the set, winning the next six games (6-2). However, it was a result that perhaps does not reflect how tight every game was.

Bouzas took back to the court after the opening set determined not to give in. It was her debut in the main draw of the tournament but she was not going to let the occasion overwhelm her. She came out fighting and went on to produce a comeback masterclass. The key to her success was concentration on every point and digging her heels during some extremely long rallies. Bouzas had changed up a gear or two and it was enough to give her a 4-0 lead. Despite Paula getting one of the service breaks back, she eventually fell 3-6 to her Galician opponent.

In the decider, it was Badosa’s experience against the youth and excitement of Bouzas. Every point was played as if it were the last. For the first time in the tie, there were no breaks of serve early in the set. There was nothing between the two players and it was clear the match would be decided on the finer details . The first to strike was Bouzas, with a break in game six. Badosa returned the favour immediately, only for an unflappable Jessica to rebreak the Catalonian. The current world No. 93 was now faced with the biggest game of her career at 5-3 and serving for her first win in a WTA 1000. She did not shy away from the challenge. A set to love gave her a dream victory. The comeback in the Manolo Santana Stadium was complete.

“It’s a dream come true. In my first WTA 1000 main draw, in Madrid, in the Manolo Santana Stadium, playing against Paula Badosa, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of”. Asked about the attention now focused on her and the growing expectations, the Galician was prudent: “I’m focusing on taking it step by step, and trying to enjoy myself and not go too fast”. An old head on 21-year-old shoulders.

For her part, Paula also spoke to the media shortly after losing the match. “It’s a defeat that hurts because I think my level wasn’t good. I love tennis, but seeing that things aren’t going well week after week makes me suffer. Madrid is very special and I wanted things to go differently”. The great thing about tennis is that there is always another chance to bounce back the following week. We can be sure we’ll get the chance to enjoy Paula’s game again in Madrid next year.