Say hello to your new World No.2. Thanks to a quarterfinal win against Ons Jabeur at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Paula Badosa will reach a new career-high in the Hologic WTA Tour rankings next week.
She broke new ground the hard way. For the third time in four career meetings, Badosa and Jabeur went the distance, but it was the second-seeded Spaniard who stayed steady down the stretch in a 2 hour, 11-minute victory, 7-6(9), 1-6, 6-3, to move through to her third semifinal of the year against No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.
"Against Ons, she's an amazing player and she plays so, so well. It's so tough to beat her, so I'm really happy about this win today," Badosa said.
"This means more to me than just a match; I'm at my best ranking. I was going after it at the last tournaments and I couldn't [get it].
"I was fighting a lot and it was really my goal, so I'm really happy about that."
First set swing: The 67-minute first set proved to be the key to the match. Both players had early leads—Badosa led 2-0 and Jabeur was ahead 5-3—before the tiebreak, where they both had set points. Badosa denied Jabeur the set at 6-5 and 8-7, and converted on her third chance.
"The first set, I think it was a very high level from both sides. Either one of us could win it, and I'm very pleased that I could win it," Badosa said. "I was really, really tired and my energy went down.
"She played very well, as well. I was feeling pain everywhere, but as I always say, I'm a fighter and that's what I want to be remembered for, so I'm really happy that I fought until the last moment."
Turning point: Badosa won just six points in the first five games of the second set, and quelled similar momentum by Jabeur to start the decider. The Spaniard saved three break points at 1-1, and later, an eight points swing in her favor from 2-2 gave her a lead she'd never relinquish. Though Jabeur broke back in the seventh game, Badosa denied her two chances to level at 4-4 before capturing the last two games.
Sabalenka snaps Kontaveit's indoor streak
Anett Kontaveit wasn't ready to let her 22-match unbeaten streak indoors go without a fight. No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka gave her one, and for the second straight year, Sabalenka advanced past her Estonian rival to reach the semifinals in Stuttgart.
The pair's last meeting in the last eight at the Porsche Arena a year ago also went three sets, and with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory on Friday, Sabalenka also improved her record against Kontaveit to 5-0 all-time.
"The third set was a perfect set for me," Sabalenka said. "She played really well; it was a really tough match, and I'm super happy with the result."
On her dominance against Kontaveit, Sabalenka added: "Every match I play against Anett is always a tough battle; I wouldn't say that I like to play against her! Today, I enjoyed every second on court, I enjoyed my game, and I think that's how I found my way through."
Scouting Sabalenka vs. Badosa: Badosa and Sabalenka played twice last year on hard courts, with the Spaniard emerging victorious both times.
Their second-round meeting in Cincinnati was a thriller, with Badosa triumphing in a third-set tiebreak from a set down, and she later delivered an emphatic 6-4, 6-0 win at the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara.