Paula Badosa’s opener at the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday was no walk in the park. But opening with a win will give her a confidence boost and allow her to continue the good form she has shown since the start of the clay swing. The Spaniard needed two and a half hours to see off Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
“Mentally, it was a very tough match, but I’m happy about the win and the step forward. I always try to compete even when I’m not having a good day. Today wasn’t good, but I tried till the end and that’s the important thing to get through matches like that”, she admitted.
Despite the fact that the 26th seed was dominating the match in the Manolo Santana Stadium, at 1 set to love and 3-1 up in the second, she was forced to dig deep as her Italian opponent refused to back down. Now Badosa will face American sixth seed Coco Gauff in the third round. Last year’s French Open finalist also opened with victory against home player Irene Burillo (6-4, 6-1).
“I started well and had the match under control. I felt good, it was really hot, but the match changed in minutes. Cocciaretto started to play and serve better in conditions where the ball was flying faster. I fought until the final point, as I always do”, she explained.
In order to continue a run of good form that took her to the quarter-finals on the clay of Charleston and Stuttgart, the 2021 MMOPEN semi-finalist will be bidding to capitalise on the home support, as well as the fact that she leads her head to head with Gauff, with wins in Indian Wells (2021) and San José (2022), versus just one defeat in Doha (2022).
“We’ve played Gauff several times now. She’s a big server, plays aggressive and has one of the best backhands in the world. I think it’ll be a very tactical match, because she plays really well on clay and it’ll be a nice challenge to play against her in front of my home fans”, said Badosa.
The Spaniard now has twelve wins to her name on the WTA tour compared to six losses in a year in which she made a promising start by reaching the semis in Adelaide. A right thigh injury prevented her from playing for a place in the final and from competing in the first Grand Slam of the season in Australia. Now, in the Caja Mágica, the world No. 42 is hoping to relaunch her season.
“I’ve had some good weeks and I’ve been playing well. I’ve played with the best in the world and been very close. My level is there, it’s the small details and closing out matches isn’t easy. I feel good and hopefully I’ll finish one off so that I can be the Paula I want to be”, she concluded.