Paula Badosa captured her third career title and second on hard courts at the Sydney Tennis Classic, defeating No.4 Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4) in a hotly contested final Saturday. The win capped off a week that included wins over Jelena Ostapenko, Ajla Tomljanovic, Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina, and boosted the Spaniard to a new career-high No.6.
It was perfect preparation for the Australian Open for the 24-year-old, who will face Tomljanovic again Monday night in the first round.
Badosa joined the WTA Insider Podcast to reveal the keys to her successful week in Sydney and provide insights into her improved on-court aggression and mental fortitude.
Listen to the full interview by subscribing to the WTA Insider Podcast or clicking below:
WTA Insider: What are you most proud of with your title run in Sydney?
Badosa: Well, I'm proud of a lot of things, but I think especially how I played. For me, it was a big challenge and a big goal for me to change a little bit of my game this year, being a little bit more aggressive, going more for the shots, serving big. I think this week the courts were very fast and I didn't have another option as well. If I wanted to win, I had to go for it. So I'm really happy that I've been improving on that, on my game, and it went very well this week.
WTA Insider: At what point during the tournament did you feel your game click?
Badosa: In the quarterfinals against Belinda. I played on Court 1 so it was even faster, and I was like, 'Oh, I cannot believe this. Why do I have to play in this court against Belinda who plays always super fast.' In that match, I think I improved a lot, even if that match didn't go my way - I was lucky and I won, I played very good - I think that made me play very well in the next match against Daria and today because [the court] it didn't give me an option to try to play the point. I had to go for it on the returns, I had to serve well. So that made me improve a lot and that made me give the level that I gave in the semifinals and in the final.
Badosa: "Few years ago, mentally, I was a typical player: She can play good, but mentally she's so far away.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) November 14, 2021
“[With COVID] I was 2mos at home and I started to work very hard on that because I didn't want to listen that anymore. I want to prove people wrong.”#AKRONWTAFinals pic.twitter.com/BUdLSReBIE
WTA Insider: In Guadalajara, you spoke about how committed you were to improving your mental game after struggling in tight moments in matches. You've come through two intense, tight finals in Indian Wells and here. How pleased are you about that improvement and what has been the key to that?
Badosa: Yeah, I'm really proud of myself. I have to be honest, I'm a little bit obsessive, but I think when you want to be a very good player, you have to be like that. So when I have something in my head, I really put everything to try to change it. Of course, it's not always going to go your way, but at least I give my 100 percent on that.
I'm really proud of myself that I'm improving a lot and the things that I want to improve are coming fast as well. So I feel very pleased and I'm really happy that I'm improving day by day and that my level is growing. I'm super, super happy about that.
WTA Insider: How different is your mindset now in those high-pressure moments compared to how it used to be?
Badosa: I was super auto-destructive and very negative on myself. I was always talking to myself bad. I think that's the thing that I changed the most, to speak to myself and to give me love. I try to always support myself.
I learned that on the court it's you against another one. If you're playing against yourself, it's two against one. So it's never going to go your way in these kinds of matches with these kinds of players at their very high level. They're the best players in the world. It's impossible to win these kinds of matches if you don't make a team with yourself. So that's the thing that I've improved the most, and that's the thing that I'm always trying to do in these tough matches.
WTA Insider: On the theme of improvements, you won this title by being quite aggressive. How comfortable are you playing this way and what has been the key to evolving your game this way? Some players really struggle to make the change.
Badosa: I've never been that aggressive, but I think I had the capacity of being that. But I always preferred to play another way. So I think I had that capacity to do it. Of course, it's a big step mentally as well, to go for it and to not fear about it. But yeah, I think I had the shots, but sometimes I wasn't going for it.
I think that my coach helps me a lot on that, because sometimes when you miss you just regret it so much. Why did I do it like that? I had to play the point. He's always supporting me and being there, [saying] I don't care if you do 500 unforced errors because it's the only way. When you have your team that supports you and that you feel more confident and you see that it's OK if you miss. That's a little bit my change.
WTA Insider: Do you think this feeling of not wanting to miss, is that because you grew up on clay or do you think that's your personality?
Badosa: Well it has to be a mix of everything, but I think it's a little bit how Spanish players are educated when we are very small, very competitive. But the bad thing is that sometimes we want the other one to miss and we want to win the match like that. It's impossible if you want to be one of the best players in the world - now I'm Top 10 in the world - you cannot win tournaments like that. You can win small tournaments like that, but not against the best players because they play amazing.
So that's why I was very focused on improving on that and I'm lucky that I have a Spanish coach but his mentality is not Spanish. I think we're doing a step forward on that and I think we're very happy with our work.
WTA Insider: To be able to play at this level and win a title on a quick hard court so early in the season, does that relax your shoulders? Last year wasn't a fluke.
Badosa: In that part, this is a reality. It was not like, 'Oh my God, she did a good week in Indian Wells, and that's it.' I wanted to prove that it wasn't like that. So in that part, yes. But in another part, I think my personality is that I always want more. I'm never happy. So I will try to enjoy this win, this title today, but it's tough for me because in 48 hours, I have another match.
My personality is that I always want more. I win this tournament and I want to win another one already. But I think if I control that, it's not bad either. We'll try to stay calm and enjoy a little bit tonight and tomorrow to rest, and already looking forward for Monday.
READ: Badosa settling into 'new normal' after breakout season
WTA Insider: Does this result and the way you played change your expectations for the Australian Open?
Badosa: No. I know now a lot of people will say she's one of the favorites, she just came off confidence winning a tournament. I don't like to listen to all these kind of things. I know people have to say something, so they will say that. I know that it's a reality, but it's very tough.
It's a Grand Slam. You have a lot of pressure. I'm playing against an Aussie. People playing at home, I know how it is. I know that feeling. It's an extra motivation. She's fresh. I'm tired. I'm with confidence, that's true, so let's see. I will have to play match by match, and I'm really looking forward to it.
It's another challenge. I like to take this kind of challenge. For me it makes me grow as a tennis player, but as well as a person. So I'm really happy that I'm enjoying the road and it's nice for me that everything now it's coming and I'm really pleased.
What a week and what a final. 🤯— Paula Badosa (@paulabadosa) January 15, 2022
It's always an honor to play with you friend @BKrejcikova, I wish you all the best. 🤝
Third title. Let's go! 🤩
Menuda semana y menuda final. 🤯
Siempre es un honor jugar contigo amiga, te deseo todo lo mejor. 🤝
Tercer título 🤩. Vamos! pic.twitter.com/ZxwC0Jje6n