Paula Badosa has secured her third career WTA title after claiming a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4) victory over Barbora Krejcikova in the final of the Sydney Tennis Classic.
The three-set triumph capped off a sensational week for the Spaniard who now moves to a career-high ranking of World No. 6.
Badosa was fresh off a 6-2, 6-2 domination of Daria Kasatkina on Friday night and the Spaniard showed no signs of fatigue during the two hour and 22-minute tussle out on Ken Rosewall Arena.
There had to have been an inkling of déjà vu for Badosa after she raced out to a 2-0 lead in similar fashion to her semi-final. The Spaniard was quick to physically impose herself with her easy power on both wings troubling the 2021 French Open champion.
Krejcikova started slowly in her semi-final. Actually, ‘slowly’ might be the understatement of the year. The Czech was bagelled by World No. 7 Anett Kontaveit in the first set before she came roaring back to book her ticket to the final in a tense 26-point third set tiebreak.
But Saturday would be a different story and after feeling her way into the match, Krejcikova’s all-court prowess came to the fore and soon after we were level at 2-2.
Badosa was suddenly under pressure. She had to paint the lines to keep herself in points and needed her serve to bail herself out on multiple occasions. The Spaniard hung tough and waited until the level of Krejcikova dropped and when it did, she was ready.
A brief lull from the World No. 4 was all Badosa needed to take advantage and run away with the first set and two breaks of serve later, the Spaniard edged ahead.
The second set opened with a return to form for Krejcikova who broke to love on the back of some sensational forehand winners.
The forehand technique of the Czech is something close to a work of art. Krejcikova disguises it so well that her opponent is often completely clueless as to where the ball is headed before she rips it.
That said, the power of Badosa keeps her in points and games when other players would quickly fall behind the eight ball, and she was quickly able to find her way back into the set.
Krejcikova and Badosa had met twice prior to Saturday evening with the Spaniard, on both occasions, securing the early ascendancy prior to a futile fightback from the Czech.
With the momentum swinging in the favour of Badosa, the third meeting between the pair looked to be playing to a familiar beat. And yet, Krejcikova quickly found again and a break and hold of serve later, the match was headed to a decider.
After two high-quality sets of tennis, errors from both players began to appear more frequently. A forehand error from Krejcikova gave Badosa a 2-0 advantage but a double fault from the Spaniard would quickly hand that break right back.
In a match that was governed by momentum swings, it was only fitting that a final set tiebreak would decide the Sydney Tennis Classic and before long the scoreboard read 6-6.
Krejcikova may have played the better tennis, but Badosa was more consistent. In the tiebreak, the Spaniard raced out to a decisive 5-2 lead before clinching the match and championship.
The win preserves Badosa’s perfect record in WTA finals (3-0) and one suspects that the new World No. 6 may need to consider expanding the trophy cabinet before too long.
A look ahead
Badosa will meet Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday in what will be a rematch of their round two encounter at the Sydney Tennis Classic. Krejcikova will also be in action on Monday when she meets former World No. 9 Andrea Petkovic. Both Badosa and Krejcikova are drawn in the same quarter and could meet in the quarterfinals.