Paula Badosa took off

Laura Marta

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Despite the fatigue after a tremendous beating against Anastasija Sevastova that was decided in a third set (6-7 (0), 7-6 (3) and 6-0), Paula Badosa she had the strength to smile and cry. In appearance, antagonistic sensations, but in his case they reflected the same thing: the joy of having turned a dark tunnel into rays of light. The Catalan – born in New York by chance – plays today the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open against Belinda Bencic, the first victories of her career in the final draw. A major award, with all its deservedness, for a much tougher comeback than the one he starred against the Latvian last night. And this was one of the greats.

«A year and a half ago I played ITF tournaments -circuited a notch below WTA- and was struggling to get into the top 100, and it was costing me a lot. I’ve been through very difficult things, “he admitted without censorship. In those very difficult things, words like ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’, the least beautiful part of elite sport.

Because in 2015, Badosa was the jewel of Spanish tennis, a brilliant junior Roland Garros champion. Talent in abundance that heralded a successful leap to the heights. But so far from the ground, vertigo entered. The fear of not doing well, of failing, of not meeting the expectations that his tennis had raised, took hold in his head. «Perhaps at the time I was seen with a future, but I really did not see that future, I did not believe that I could be there for real. The victory at Roland Garros came very quickly and I did not expect it. I was working for it, but in my head I did not expect it to come to me, “he continued reeling Monday to underline where he has gotten up from.

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«I went through moments of anxiety. Also moments of depression, I admit. I had no personal or professional desire to do anything. I lost my enthusiasm for many things and, above all, to play tennis. He did not enjoy anything. Upside down, I felt a pressure and an obligation and a few fears that made me never want to enter the court “, he admitted in 2019, in a video in which he shared that black stage of 2018.” My way of living tennis was not the right one. You have things in your head that you shouldn’t have and you don’t train well, you don’t eat well ».

And chose to get up. One daily match after another, against herself and the elements. He changed everything to find what had always been there: the talent, the desire, the aspirations. And the desire to play and to be again Paula Badosa, a tennis player capable of and aspiring to everything, returned. He chose as coach Javier Marti, tennis player very unlucky with injuries, and found the figure that his tennis and his head needed. A friend to whom he could entrust difficult situations and from whom he could receive the right advice because he had also been there: «Since I’ve been with him, the change as a tennis player has been very noticeable. It gives me, supports me in the best and worst moments. The truth is that I owe him a lot.

“We all knew about Paula’s level, she has always been a player with great potential. She proved it when she was the junior Roland Garros champion. Later, she suffered a lot of pressure due to the expectations that were placed on her and, as she herself has stated, she has had moments that have been difficult for her to assimilate and manage. As the years have passed, he has achieved a stability and maturity required to be able to get the best version of his tennis “, analyzes Anabel Medina, captain of the Spanish women’s tennis team.

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Rewards

“Never stop fighting,” Badosa wrote on social media after the round of 16. Motto that continues from that turning point, and from which it receives so many rewards now: round of 16 at Roland Garros 2020, semifinals in Lyon 2021, semifinals in Charleston, with victory over world number 1 Ashleigh Barty and, for now, fourth in the Mutua Madrid Open. «I needed to do a week like this, to show myself that I could be among the best. I felt like I deserved it. After all that I’ve been through and worked for, my head told me ‘you can and you deserve it’He smiled.

Medina predicts more: «Here in Madrid people can see what many of us already knew, an aggressive player, with great service and power in all her strokes, who likes the big stages and wants to be among the best in the world. After this tournament there will be a very big change inside that will make you achieve great things.

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