Paula Badosa’s bid to complete the first successful women’s singles title defense at Indian Wells since 1991 has ended.
The Spanish star, who stormed to her biggest title last October at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, had her streak thwarted by Greece’s Maria Sakkari, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, on Friday night in Stadium 1.
“I worked my entire life to get to these late stages of the tournaments,” an emotional Sakkari said on court after her win. “I know it looks maybe silly to someone – it’s not like I won the tournament, I’m in the final – but it means a lot to me.”
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 19, 2022
Sakkari, who reaches her fifth career final and the biggest of her career, will face Poland’s Iga Swiatek for the title on Sunday. Sakkari owns a 3-1 lifetime against the 20-year-old Pole, who defeated Simona Halep in straight sets to reach the final earlier on Friday.
“I know Iga really well, she’s a lovely girl and an amazing player, she won a Slam at the age of 19, she’s an unbelievable player – I respect her a lot and admire her game,” said Sakkari. “It’s going to be an unbelievable fight for both of us and a very tough match for both of us, because I believe that we both really want to win that title.”
A Back-And-Forth Tussle
Two of the most esteemed fighters on the WTA Tour locked horns for a spot in the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles final, and the result was – as expected – a breathtaking battle which featured plenty of jaw-dropping exchanges.
The pair of top-10 stalwarts traded baseline blows over three frantic, physical sets, with the Greek eventually proving too solid for Badosa in their second career meeting.
“I was very concerned before the match because Paula is playing very different compared to all the other girls,” said Sakkari. “She has a very heavy game, and she obviously loves this tournament because she won this tournament six months ago, but I just had full faith and I believed in myself every single moment.”
The pair of hard-hitting rivals each picked their times to shine early. First it was Sakkari, who was devastating in the opening set as she dropped just a pair of games. After a tense start to the contest, Sakkari pulled ahead by a break and all but sealed the opener when she rallied from 15-40 down to hold for 4-1.
At that moment she ran to her chair, bouncing and pumping her fist as she went, firmly in control and happy to send the message across the net.
But Badosa, who had never lost at Indian Wells since making her stunning debut in 2021, offered resistance. She pushed through a tense middle set, coming through a patch of turbulence that featured three consecutive breaks of serve with a 3-2 edge. The 24-year-old would hold for 4-2, then save a break point for 5-3 before clinching the set in her next service game.
Her momentum would be short-lived, however.
— wta (@WTA) March 19, 2022
Sakkari took control of the third set early, and the determined Greek made sure she didn’t let it slip.
After an early trade of breaks, Sakkari pulled ahead with her sixth break of the evening for 3-1, and quickly consolidated for 4-1. She swept through the final two games, closing the contest in one hour and 48 minutes.