Aryna Sabalenka’s Victory Over Injured Paula Badosa In Dramatic Stuttgart Showdown 2024

Aryna Sabalenka emerged victorious in a gripping match against her close friend Paula Badosa, who retired due to a leg injury in a late-night spectacle at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

The clash between these two tennis stars showcased resilience, emotion, and sportsmanship on Stuttgart’s Center Court.

Aryna Sabalenka’s Victory Over Injured Paula Badosa In Dramatic Stuttgart Showdown 2024

Despite an emotional finish, Aryna Sabalenka had a successful start to her clay-court career as she defeated an injured Paula Badosa 7-6 (6), 4-6, 3-3, retired, and advanced to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix quarterfinals.

Following the sudden conclusion of what had been a lengthy altercation between the two friends, Sabalenka said in court, “I don’t have any emotions right now.” “I’m not depressed or joyful. All I want to do is express my gratitude to everyone who watched the entire game. I’m hoping you all have a nice night’s sleep and feel well the next day! I am at a loss for words.”

The No. 2 seed survived well past midnight on Thursday after over two and a half hours on Stuttgart’s Center Court, overcoming a late start and some brilliant hitting from her close friend and “tennis soulmate.” The former No. 2 was struggling with a left leg injury.

For the third consecutive year, the buddies known as “Sabadosa” were playing in Stuttgart. In the semifinals of 2022, Sabalenka emerged victorious in straight sets, and in the 2023 finals, she overcame Badosa after trailing a set and a break. The Australian Open winner was still in shock after learning that her ex-partner Konstantin Koltsov had committed suicide just days before the Miami Open began. This made their most recent meeting more solemn.

Even though Sabalenka beat Badosa in Miami, she lost to Anhelina Kalinina in her subsequent match and took a few weeks off from competition to heal mentally. Meanwhile, the second seed had a bye into the Stuttgart second round.

After reaching her career high of No. 2 in the WTA rankings in 2022, Badosa—who had her own mental health troubles early in her career—has primarily contended with physical problems. She suffered a chronic back condition that prevented her from competing in three of the four major tournaments in 2023.

Badosa has noted that she feels better on the court than she did earlier in the season when she was forced to retire from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open, which she won back in 2021. This is despite her early exits in Miami and Charleston, where she lost to eventual champion Danielle Collins.

Badosa, who started the week with a straight-sets victory over Diana Shnaider, used some excellent ballstriking as Sabalenka frequently battled to find her range, giving the 26-year-old Spaniard an early break edge. Badosa is looking for her first victory over Sabalenka since the 2021 WTA Finals.

After breaking back herself twice, Sabalenka managed to hold on during a dramatic 12th game and force a first-set tiebreaker.

Also Read: Iga Swiatek’s Dominant Win at Indian Wells Final 2024: A Triumph in Tennis History

Aryna Sabalenka’s Victory Over Injured Paula Badosa In Dramatic Stuttgart Showdown 2024

After nearly an hour on the court, Sabalenka stormed back to win six of the final seven points and take the opening set, despite Badosa having the upper hand once more to begin the Sudden Death.

Badosa, unfazed, turned the tables on the two-time Australian Open champion to take a double-break lead in the second set by breaking the serve early and thwarting a Sabalenka rally in the sixth game.

As Sabalenka started to chip away at Badosa’s lead, breaking her best friend as she served for the match and holding on to close the margin, it was clear that she was desperate to avoid a deciding set. Concerningly, Badosa left the floor for more treatment after calling a medical timeout to address what looked to be a lower back issue.

Even though Badosa had a severely strapped left thigh when she came out of the break, she managed to finish the set on her second chance, resulting in a decider as the clock approached one in the morning local time.

Sabalenka had to contend with frustration in the third set as Badosa applied pressure to her serve. However, Badosa rallied her to win a lengthy third game, get the opening break, and overcome a 0-30 disadvantage to consolidate.

The injury overshadowed Badosa just as she was about to pull off the much-needed upset—her first victory over a Top 5 player since 2022—and Sabalenka took control of the match, winning two straight games and looking to win a third when she made the heartbreaking decision to quit.

After consoling her emotional opponent at the net, Sabalenka will play either 2023 Stuttgart semifinalist Anastasia Potapova or No. 6 seed Marketa Vondrousova next.

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