In recent years, the BNP Paribas Open has been a star on the women’s side, as previously little-known talents appeared on the scene by winning at Indian Wells.
In 2018 it was Naomi Osaka, in 2019 it was Bianca Andreescu. Maybe this year it will be Paula Badosa.
Badosa, the 23-year-old Spaniard, reached the final on Friday evening, beating Ons Jabeur easily 6-3, 6-3. Not bad for her first time playing at Indian Wells.
She told the audience after the game that she thought she was dreaming.
“A year ago I was number 90 in the world, I think I won two matches in my life in a Masters 1000 tournament, and now a year later I am here,” said Badosa. “It’s crazy. I still can’t believe it. I think it’s because I worked hard and never stopped believing.”
She will play against Victoria Azarenka on Sunday for the BNP Paribas Open championship. It will be her first Masters 1000 final, but she has had great success in 2021. She won her first tournament in Belgrade, made her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open and reached the quarterfinals at the Olympics.
She topped an impressive roster of players en route to the final, winning four times in a row against the top 20 players. She defeated No. 19 Coco Gauff in the third round, No. 3 seed Barbora Krejcikova in the fourth round, 10th seed Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals and now No.12 Jabeur in the semifinals.
If she wins on Sunday, she would join an exclusive group that includes Serena Williams and Andreescu as the only players to have won the women’s singles title in their maiden voyage in Indian Wells in the past 25 years.
She would also make history as the first woman from Spain to win here. Only she and Conchita Martinez made it to the final here in 1992 and 1996.
It was a disappointing evening for Jabeur, but her streak to the semi-finals means she will make history when the next WTA ranking comes out on Monday. Jabeur, from Tunisia, will be the first Arab woman to ever finish in the top 10.
She didn’t go down without a fight. She saved five match points and entranced the crowd along the way, before finally giving in on Badosa’s sixth attempt.
Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at [email protected]
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