SYDNEY, Australia -- In her grueling three-hour win over Harriet Dart at the United Cup, Paula Badosa was stunned to find herself suddenly cramping early in the second set.
The two had been grinding away through a 77-minute opening set, but how could her body be letting her down just 90 minutes into her first match of the season?
"It was a strange feeling, because to be honest, I started to feel it at the last point of the 2-1 [game]," Badosa said. "I served well in that moment, and then I was starting to cramp.
"I was a little bit surprised, because I did a very good preseason. But I think that wasn't the reason. I think I was very nervous. I was very tight as well. First match of the season. I play with a lot of emotions, so, yeah, that's a big problem for me."
Badosa called for the trainer at the 3-2 changeover and was given the permitted rubdown. She also took in a packet of salt and liquids as the team raced to replenish fluids and electrolytes.
After Dart won the next two games to build a 4-3 lead, the trainer returned to the Spanish box with a special delivery: pickle juice. It was a cramp remedy that she was already familiar with. Badosa took it when she was younger during a cramp incident in Madrid.
"I took the pickle juice, started to relax a little bit my body," Badosa said. "I think that as well helped me play a little bit more loose and more aggressive. But, yeah, it was a little bit surprising for me, because I don't usually cramp."
Badosa played her best tennis of the match when play resumed, striking the ball big and clean to power past Dart 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-1. The statisticians even isolated her average forehand topspin speed before the pickle juice (122 km/h) and after (132 km/h).
"For me, of course the win is very important but I think the way that I won tonight, it was even better for me, because I think we played a very high level, and that my competitive spirit was there.
"Of course a three-hour match, even though I'm tired now, it always helps to get into again the tour. I'm happy about that."