Emma Raducanu ‘ready to return to action’ at Indian Wells
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Paula Badosa won what many have called one of the matches of the year in a thrilling three-set final in Indian Wells. The 23-year-old overcame former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka in three hours and four minutes to win the title with a 7-6(5) 2-6 7-6(2) victory. It was the Spaniard’s debut at the BNP Paribas Open, as she replicated Emma Raducanu’s US Open heroics by winning the title on just her first appearance at the tournament.
Badosa and Azarenka couldn't be separated throughout the final set, as the pair broke each other and continued to earn multiple break points on one another's serves.
The tight tussle started with a lengthy 79 minute first set, which saw Badosa win it in the tiebreak 7-6(5) after being broken by the Belarusian when she served for the set earlier on.
Azarenka, a two-time former champion in the Californian desert, appeared unbothered by losing a back-and-forth lengthy opening set, and raced to win the second 6-2.
The Spaniard, making her debut in Indian Wells, was the first to strike in the third and broke her opponent's serve, but was broken back as Azarenka refused to back down.
Paula Badosa beat Victoria Azarenka to win the biggest title of her career in Indian Wells (Image: Getty)
The 21 st and 27 th seeds continued to fend off break points throughout the rest of the third set, until former world No 1 Azarenka was able to convert one.
The significant break came as Badosa was serving at 4-4, giving the Belrusian the chance to serve out the match.
After being 30-0 up as she served for the title, Azarenka suddenly found herself facing a break point as the 23-year-old reeled off four points in a row to break back and keep herself alive in the final.
The championship match went to a decisive final set tiebreak, and Badosa replicated her results from the first set by getting off to a good start in the breaker, winning the first three points in a row before going on to close out a 7-6(5) 2-6 7-6(2) victory to win the biggest title of her career.
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The 23-year-old had an impressive run in the desert, beating Coco Gauff, Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, three-time Major champion Angie Kerber and top 20 star Ons Jabeur en route to the final.
Azarenka was looking to make history as the first woman to win three singles titles in Indian Wells, but the young Spanish star was able to overcome the two-time champion to top off her impressive debut by winning the trophy.
The Indian Wells champion paid tribute to Azarenka in her winners speech, saying she remembered watching the two-time Australian Open champion when she was 15-years-old.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka served for the title but fell to Paula Badosa in a third-set tie (Image: Getty)
“Athletes like you and women like you, I wouldn’t be here without you,” she told the Belarusian.
Badosa, who had won just one title in her career at the Serbia Open earlier this year, called the win a “dream come true”.
She is now set to make her top 20 debut and reach a new career-high of world No 13, according to the WTA.
Meanwhile Azarenka, a former world No 1, is now projected to rise to world No 26 from No 32 when the rankings are updated on Monday (October 18).
Both women have been praised for the three-set classic, which broke the record for longest WTA match in Indian Wells.
Former British No 1 Anne Keothavong called it one of the “matches of the year” on Prime Video.
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