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Paula Badosa presents candidacy

Sometimes fighting for your dreams and goals seems like a pipe dream. But with sacrifice and perseverance the prize ends up reaching the end of the road, after overcoming the many obstacles in life. One of these examples of overcoming represents it Paula Badosa Gibert (24 years old), who this year exploited his conditions and unquestionable talent to establish himself in the tennis elite. That is why the Catalan born in new york receives the AS Sports Award as one of the most outstanding figures in relation to the world of the racket, where Paula completed a dream year at the end Eighth in the WTA ranking after starting the season in 70th place.

But to better understand the magnitude of the Barcelona’s meteoric year, we must go back further. With 17 springs, Paula was proclaimed junior champion of Roland Garros and it attracted the spotlight of analysts, newspapers and tennis fans, generating a pressure cooker of short-term expectations that were not met. Fears, anxiety and depression appeared, which made the Spanish hit rock bottom in 2018 in which the option of abandoning tennis even flew through her head. “I had a very bad time with expectations, because I did not meet them. I never had an environment to help me. The world was falling on me. I thought it was not good for this sport “, Paula recalled at a Roland Garros press conference in 2020, where for the first time she reached the round of 16 in a Grand Slam.

Time passed and, in the absence of good results, it was time to do a mental reset, to reset the counter. Paula renewed her entire team, from coach to physio, and began to take flight thanks to a radical change in the mental aspect, so crucial to face elite sport and especially tennis. “My tennis did not appear before because I have had a Very big change of mentality, of self-confidence and good teamwork. I think physically the progress has been enormous. She had good shots, but was not prepared to hit the balls as well as she should and then hit him well. That adds up a lot. And tennis I played well, but I have improved a lot of things like the forehand, “Badosa explained to AS last June before starting the grass tour.

Having overcome the ghosts of the past, tennis lovers have been eager to see the new version of Paula Badosa on the court since the beginning of the year, although no one but herself. And at the first change, a new setback. The Barcelona woman traveled to Melbourne on the same flight in which there was a positive case of covid-19, so a few days after the start of the period of Mandatory isolation to contest the Australian Open, she also contracted the coronavirus. Due to discomfort and poor preparation, Paula fell in her debut against a Liudmila Samsonova who came from the previous phase. It was time to continue rowing …

And boy did he. Several weeks later, Badosa reappeared in competition at the WTA 250 in Lyon, where she reached her first semi-finals of the course. A starting point to which he continued with the penultimate rounds at the Charleston 500 (where she first beat the ranking leader) and the Mutua Madrid Open (her best round in a WTA 1,000 so far), where only Ashleigh Barty could beat her to redeem her loss in Charleston.

With the confidence obtained in the capital of Spain, where his performance allowed him to enter the top-50 of the world ranking for the first time, Paula traveled to Belgrade as the last stop in her preparation for Roland Garros. And what began as a set-up, ended up becoming one of the most unforgettable days in the career of any tennis player: the first title. For this, Badosa also had to appeal to the epic, since with just a few hours of difference he played two matches on the same day: he won the semifinal in the morning and the final in the afternoon. “A dream come true”, confessed the tennis player from the Real Club Tenis de Barcelona.

But the best was yet to come. And it is that the second half of the Catalan season was outstanding. At Roland Garros he took out his most forceful tennis to break a new barrier, that of reaching quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. There the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek stopped her streak, who gave the surprise in an agonizing third set (6-8). The good feelings were transferred to the Tokyo Olympics, where Paula deployed her best version to account for an entire winner of major like Iga Swiatek. However, the euphoria stopped short when everything pointed to something big, and that is only a heat stroke due to the harsh weather conditions of the Japanese capital could with Paula, which led to her withdrawal in the quarterfinals against Czech Marketa Vondrousova.

It was time to make a clean slate, back to the starting point, so Badosa recovered for the cause last September to Jorge Garcia (who trained her when she was 14 years old) replacing a Javier Martí with whom he had worked for the last year. Again, to adapt to the changes, to row against the current despite several discreet performances on stages such as the Canadian Masters and the US Open. And that’s when it happened … The brightest memory of Paula’s still promising career came in Indian Wells with her first WTA 1,000 title, in an emblematic stage like few that is known as the ‘fifth Grand Slam’. And how she did it, defeating four top-20s (Gauff, Krejcikova, Kerber and Jabeur) on her way to the final to round out the job against veteran Victoria Azarenka in epic fashion: 7-6 (5), 2- 6 and 7-6 (2) in 3:03 hours of play. “I am very proud of what I have done. Being among the best in the world is a dream that has come true. After the first tournament in Abu Dhabi, my coach told me that I would be top-30 playing like this, and I told him no, that at most fifty, “said the Barcelona woman after lifting a trophy that helped her enter for the first time in his career to the top-10.

The end-of-year tribute was given by Paula in Guadalajara (Mexico), with her debut in a WTA Finals where she was eliminated against an imperial Garbiñe Muguruza, ultimately champion, in the semifinals. “Garbiñe has always been a mirror for me. I always said that I would like to have a career like his. That they compare me with her excites me “, explained Badosa at the end of that historic match for Spanish tennis, in addition to focusing his goals for 2022 that he will face full of confidence with a Balance of two titles, six victories against top-10, quarter-finalist of a major and 8th in the ranking: “I hope to be in the top-ten and hopefully in the top-5. I have a thorn stuck with Roland Garros that escaped me this year for very little. I like to be on the big courts and play against the best ones. I will work to be there. I have realized that I am much stronger than I thought. I’m in a position on the circuit that I wasn’t expecting at all. “ The future is yours.

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