Badosa Begins Mutua Madrid Open With One-Sided Victory

Paula Badosa (photo: Jürgen Hasenkopf)

MADRID/WASHINGTON, April 29, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Playing in her home tournament as the highest seed in the draw comes with its own among of stress. Just ask World No. 2 and second seed Paula Badosa. The U.S.-born Spaniard, who reached the Mutua Madrid Open semifinals as a wild card entrant a year ago, rolled to a 65-minute 6-3, 6-0 first-round victory over No. 25 Veronika Kudermetova of Russia Thursday afternoon inside Manolo Santana Court at Caja Mágica. It was her 21st victory of the 2022 season.

“It’s stressful, nerves. I really want to do well here,” Badosa said during Media Day in Madrid on Wednesday. “Because I’m playing in front of my people, my family, everyone. It’s special. I live in Madrid, so it’s even more special for me.

“It’s crazy. Everything happened very fast and maybe here it’s where everything started. Starting it at home, with all my people is very special. And coming back here again is always going to be special. Of course, I’m going to be nervous and feel the pressure, but I cannot wait to start and feel all the people supporting me.”

Badosa hit five aces and 11 winners and save all five break points she faced on her serve. She broke Kudermetova four times in six tries and outpointed the Russian 59-30.

Next, Badosa will face two-time Madrid champion Simona Halep for the first time in her career in the second round. The 21st-ranked Romania advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 40 Zhang Shuai of China in her first match with Patrick Mouratoglou as her coach.

“I stayed focused, aggressive, strong on my legs and I just did what I had to do. It was a good match, in my opinion,” Halep said in an on-court interview. “I always have a great feeling playing here in Madrid.”

Other first-round Madrid seeded winners included: No. 8 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, No. 11 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, No. 14 Coco Gauff of the United States and No. 15 Victoria Azarenenka of Belarus.

Within a few minutes of each other, there were two big upsets on the opening day. First, No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova fell to fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova, 6-4, 7-5, who made the main draw as a 77th-ranked qualifier. It was Bouzkova’s first Top-10 win on clay. Then, No. 3 seed and defending champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus lost to No. 33 Amanda Anisimova of the United States, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, in an hour and 55 minutes on Manolo Santanta Court.

Anisimova, who finished with 29 winners, has beaten Sabalenka in all four of their career meetings – including twice this season. Sabalenka committed 33 unforced errors and hit eight double faults, tge last one on match point.

“It’s always enjoyable to accept the challenge, even when it’s a tough match, and push yourself and see how far you can go,” Anisimova said during an on-court interview after her win. “I enjoy these matches, even though they’re very tough … especially when you get ot win them.”

Swiatek explains decision to withdraw from Madrid

With four consecutive WTA titles won – including three straight WTA 1000 crowns – plus a 23-match winning streak, World No. 1 Iga Swiatek was all set to go after the only major clay title that she hasn’t won, the Mutua Madrid Open, which began Thursday at Caja Mágica.

After being seeded first, Swiatek decided on Wednesday to withdraw from Madrid in order to take care of a fatigued arm. The 20-year-old Polish star spoke Wednesday during her previously-scheduled Media Day news conference to explain her decision.

“I wanted to play it really badly, honestly,” she said. “Sometimes, you just have to make the smartest decision possible. My heart was like, ‘Hey, Iga, this is Madrid.’ I only had one chance to play here, and I feel like I could do better. So, I wanted to improve the result that I had last year.

“But I’m pretty happy that my team sometimes is also taking a lot of responsibility. I trust in them and I know that they’re going to make the right decisions because I’ve never had a situation, in terms of planning and in terms of looking more to the future and not what’s going on right now, I’ve never had a situation when their decision was wrong.

“So, basically, I trust them complete and I feel like just a couple of days off and then having time to actually practice a little bit more and focus on the technical stuff is going to do me only good.”

Swiatek is expected to resume play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, which begins May 8.

Nike’s Serena Williams Building is its newest, largest on its Oregon campus

Nike has debuted its newest – and largest – building on its Beaverton, Oregon campus. It’s the Serena Williams Building and it’s named after the 23-time major champion. Imagine this: The Serena Williams Building covers 1-million square feet – equivalent in size to 140 full-sized tennis courts. According to Forbes, it has the capability of housing Nike’s 1,000 brand designers all on one floor.

What they’re tweeting

Gerry Marzorati, who writes about tennis for The New Yorker

What they’re writing

Egyptian tennis writer Reem Abulleil on Ons Jabeur for the Arab News, “Ons Jabeur says sports and politics shouldn’t mix”

By the numbers

There are three players in the women’s singles draw of the Mutua Madrid Open who have won the Madrid title: Petra Kvitova (2011, 2015, 2018) Simona Halep (2016-17) and Aryna Sabalenka (2021).

“Quotable …”

“I don’t want to talk about politics, because it’s politics, in my opinion. I feel like it’s an individual sport, so these players, it’s not their fault, in my opinion. It’s a tough decision, I am sure that everyone was struggling with it. Just I feel sad for everything that is happening right now in Ukraine and all the people that are suffering. I’m against the war and hopefully it’s going to be finished. We are close there. So, it’s not easy for anybody, but yeah, it’s individual. They took the Flagg off, so I think that was a good move. But the rest, yeah, it’s politics. So, I will stay away from politics. I love sports.”

Simona Halep, 2019 Wimbledon champion, asked in press after her first-round win at Madrid about Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players this year.