Aryna Sabalenka hails Paula Badosa after Stuttgart clash, says Spaniard will return to Top-10

Aryna Sabalenka opens up about facing good friend Paula Badosa in Stuttgart.
Aryna Sabalenka opens up about facing good friend Paula Badosa in Stuttgart.

Aryna Sabalenka showered heavy praise on her good friend Paula Badosa after narrowly coming through in a thrilling quarter-final between the two players at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Friday. Sabalenka hailed Badosa's 'unbelievable tennis' on the day and expressed her belief that the Spaniard will return to the WTA Top-10 soon.

Badosa put World No. 2 Sabalenka under constant pressure from the beginning and held a 6-4, 4-2, 0-30 lead before Sabalenka mounted a strong comeback. Badosa made her own comeback of sorts after going down 0-3 in the deciding set, before Sabalenka closed out the match with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

Speaking after the match, the reigning Australian Open champion shared her views on the "crazy" match against an in-form Badosa.

"It was absolutely crazy. She played unbelievable tennis today," Aryna Sabalenka said in her post-match on-court interview. "I just tried to keep fighting, keep trying to find my game. She’s a great player & I’m sure very soon she’ll be back in the top-10."

Sabalenka also shed light on the experience of playing against a very good friend such as Badosa, saying that they know how to separate their friendship from their professional rivalry. The reigning Australian Open champion also admitted that she fought the urge to scream in celebration on various occasions during Friday's match out of respect towards Badosa.

"It's tough to play against a friend, but we've played against each other a little, so we know how to separate off-court life from on-court life," Sabalenka said further.
"There were some moments during the match where I wanted to shout 'come on.' But then I was like should I do it or not? She's my friend...Then I was like, it's okay, I'll speak to her later."

Both players have now won two tour-level matches apiece against each other.

"I was very happy for her" - Paula Badosa on Aryna Sabalenka's Australian Open 2023 win

Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka at the 2021 WTA Finals.
Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka at the 2021 WTA Finals.

Speaking ahead of the 2023 Stuttgart match, Paula Badosa expressed her happiness towards Aryna Sabalenka winning her maiden Grand Slam title at this year's Australian Open. Badosa, who could not compete in Melbourne due to an injury, said that she was closely following her friend Sabalenka's progress in Melbourne and reached out to her soon after she won the title.

"To be honest, [Aryna Sabalenka] was the only player I was following in Australia because I was injured and it was tough for me to see. Right after she won, I text her and I was very happy for her, because I know how much it mean and how much she struggled last year," Badosa said in a press conference.

Sabalenka will face either Caroline Garcia or Anastasia Potapova in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix semifinals on Saturday. A potential clash with either the defending champion and World No. 1 Iga Swiatek or Ons Jabeur in Sunday's final is also on the cards for Sabalenka.