Without displaying brilliant tennis, but with more poise than her rival, Paula Badosa keeps alive the flame of Spanish women’s tennis at the Masters in Rome. The Catalan, the only Spaniard who is still alive in the tournament after the elimination of Nuria Parrizas, beat Marta Kostyuk this Sunday in two sets (6-4, 6-2) and reaches the round of 16 of the tournament. Badosa took advantage of the ups and downs of the Ukrainian player, capable of leaving both brilliant moments and tremendous disconnections, to take a more difficult match in 1 hour and 32 minutes than indicated on the scoreboard.
Kostyuk, only 20 years old, had a surprising irruption on the women’s circuit when she was a fifteen-year-old and in 2023 she is trying to recover that illusion. The Ukraine, who came to play a doubles tournament with Badosa in 2019, showed a great level at the start of the match, scoring a break in favor already in the first game. The Spaniard was not comfortable with the happy and offensive game of her rival, who brimmed with confidence and launched herself into the net at the slightest opportunity. But from the sixth game, both players were very irregular with their serve, with two service breaks by Badosa and one by the Ukraine that returned the score to equality.
Kostyuk was then disconnected, who did not know how to react psychologically to the blow of the counterbreak and started making a lot of unforced errors. Instead, Badosa managed to link several winners, something that was missed in a conservative start. The Ukraine failed again with her serve and after several double faults she put the first set on a plate for Badosa, who did not miss the opportunity.
In the second set and with the score in favor, Badosa repeated the formula of the previous match, in which she beat the Tunisian Ons Jabeur: a calmer game to take advantage of her rival’s nervousness. Said and done, he achieved a break At the first exchange that seemed to put the pass on track. Kostyuk ran after the ball from side to side, although he would occasionally leave some quality gesture in the form of a big shot.
The lack of forcefulness of the Ukraine with their serve ended up tipping the balance. Despite managing to break Badosa’s serve twice in an uncertain second set, Kostyuk was unable to win a single game with his serve in the second set, definitively handing the match over to the Catalan.
After a difficult start to the season, with an injury that prevented him from competing in Melbourne, Badosa tries to make up for his elimination in Madrid. After being dropped in the Magic Box by Maria Sakkari, the tennis player assured that she needed to “climb a couple of steps” to return to the place that belongs to her when her tennis reaches the boiling point. In the round of 16, she will put the Czech Karolina Muchova to the test, in a duel that has not yet been confirmed if it will take place on Monday or Tuesday.
The Foro Itálico, one of the most iconic venues of the clay court season, brings back fond memories of Spanish women’s tennis. Conchita Martínez lifted the trophy four times in a row between 1993 and 1996, while María José Martínez also managed to win the title in 2010. Now it is Badosa who is in a good position to follow in her footsteps.
The Catalan is at the top of the field in a rather eventful women’s Masters at the Foro Italico. Rain, injuries and surprises (such as Aryna Sabalenka’s elimination in her debut, winner in Madrid). The one who does not seem to be surprised at all is Iga Swiatek. The world number 1, who would face Badosa in a hypothetical semifinal, has not conceded a set in the tournament and is the main favorite to be crowned in Rome for the third consecutive year.
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