Paula Badosa Gilbert: The Spanish tennis beauty knits a fairytale on the Serbian clay

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Belgrade witnessed the beginning of an era on Saturday evening as Spanish tennis beauty, Paula Badosa Gilbert lifted her first ever WTA trophy in the Serbia Ladies Open.

Currently World no. 34, Paula Badosa Gilbert made her WTA Top 40 debut on Monday after clinching her first ever WTA trophy in the Saturday evening. Formerly, her ranking was World no. 44. This season has proved to be a breakthrough season for Badosa as she has been able to garner two milestones in quick succession. She reached her first-ever WTA singles final in the afternoon, then followed up by winning her first WTA singles title in the evening.

The Spaniard claimed the title after qualifier Ana Konjuh unfortunately had to retire due to a right hip injury in the final, while Badosa was leading 6-2, 2-0. Badosa finished the week without the loss of a set as her stellar clay-court season reached a new zenith with the championship.

“I’m really, really happy I could win my first WTA title,” the Spanish tennis beauty told the press, after her win. “I’ve been chasing this since a long time, so finally I have it here with me.”

On Friday, Paula was successful in reaching her third straight semifinal, having posted final four appearances in her last two events. The first one in Charleston where she showcased an absolute masterclass to defeat World No.1 Ashleigh Barty and in the Mutua Madrid Open where the World No.1 took her revenge of Charleston.

But, it was no less than a fairytale for Paula Badosa Gilbert as she had never reached a WTA singles final until her first of two matches on Saturday, where she showed lucky loser, Viktoriya Tomova her way back home in just 63 minutes.

In the final of the Serbia Ladies Open, Badosa propelled herself through her second match of the day by winning 82 percent of her first-service points before Konjuh retired. “I’m super happy, and I’m super proud of myself,” Badosa said. “All this week, I think I played at a very good level and I was feeling quite well.”

“Today wasn’t an easy day, not even in the morning,” the Spaniard added. “In the afternoon, I think I played an amazing first set, I think I played at a very good level. Ana’s an amazing player, I’m so sorry for her we have to finish like this, but the part that I was playing, I think it was quite good so I’m happy with the level.”

Badosa’s pace and precision troubled Konjuh early in the final, as the seeded player garnered a double-break lead to 3-0. The powerful Konjuh slammed a backhand return winner to break for 3-1, but deft variety and defense by Badosa helped her reclaim that large advantage with a break in the very next game.

After double faulting twice in a row at 5-1, Konjuh faced a set point, but she wiped that away with a powerful forehand crosscourt winner, eventually gritting out a hold. But her Spaniard counterpart had no concerns serving out the opening frame in the next game, as she pulled herself to a set from victory.

Paula fired a backhand passing winner to break Konjuh in the opening game of the second set, and after a hold for 2-0, the Spaniard had yet to hit an unforced error in that set. At that point, the right hip was causing Konjuh too much trouble thus making the qualifier to retire from her first final in over four years.

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Dipro Mukherjee
18. Calcutta. Sagittarius. Sports Columnist.

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