Match-of-the-year candidate, a breakthrough moment and more from Indian Wells

The Insider Wrap is a recap of the whole lot it’s essential know from the week that was. This week, WTA Insider appears to be like again on the 2021 BNP Paribas Open, which minted a brand new champion in Spain’s Paula Badosa. The particular fall version of Indian Wells noticed the return of Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, the history-making run from Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, and a closing that can probably go down because the WTA Match of the 12 months. 

Performances of the Event: Paula Badosa and Victoria Azarenka

Was Sunday’s gripping 3-hour and 4-minute BNP Paribas Open closing the match of the 12 months? It is most definitely a favourite within the dialog. Not solely was the match the longest closing of the season, however there was not a second when the standard, stress or drama dipped. 

For Indian Wells Champion Badosa, her gritty win over a competitively relentless Azarenka was an announcement. The 23-year-old Spaniard has loved a breakout season filled with constant and deep runs, however her greatest moments have come exterior the highlight. 

Her beautiful win over No.1 Ashleigh Barty in Charleston got here within the wake of the Australian’s run to the Miami title. A semifinal run in Madrid, first WTA title in Belgrade, and first main quarterfinal at Roland Garros piqued the general public’s curiosity, however on a tour of unprecedented depth and expertise, getting all eyes on you’ll be able to a tricky process via no fault of your outcomes.

In her Indian Wells main-draw debut, Badosa’s match unfolded equally. She was posting High 20 wins and defeating main champions, however got here into the ultimate beneath the radar, given the comprehensible consideration surrounding Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez’s first tournaments for the reason that US Open, Ons Jabeur’s historic milestone, and Azarenka’s resurgent kind.

However in opposition to one of many recreation’s nice champions and rivals, Badosa placed on an simple showcase of her strengths as a participant and competitor. It wasn’t the end result itself that was spectacular, however how the Spaniard did it. Twice within the first set she led by a break solely to see Azarenka break again. Within the first set tiebreak she led 4-0 solely to seek out Azarenka degree at 5-5. How did she reply? By outhitting the two-time champion to win a grueling, disciplined 28-ball rally on set level. 

That is the place we pause to reward the singular competitor that’s Victoria Azarenka. Heading into her closing match of the season, the previous No.1 had endured a irritating season to overlook. From her arduous quarantine in Melbourne to a season-long battle to remain wholesome, Azarenka couldn’t discover the extent she touched final season, when she gained Cincinnati and made the US Open closing. 

And so, Azarenka got here into her final occasion with a watch towards 2022. Initially of the match, she pressured her need to make use of her matches in Indian Wells to implement obligatory adjustments to her recreation with a watch to turning into extra effectively aggressive. As Azarenka noticed it, shorter factors meant shorter matches which meant much less bodily influence. 

That environment friendly model of Azarenka could have booked her spot within the semifinals. She misplaced only one set with wins over Petra Kvitova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Jessica Pegula.  But it surely was her trademark refuse-to-lose perspective that made her closing two matches in Indian Wells – together with an unimaginable three-set comeback in opposition to Jelena Ostapenko within the semis – must-see memorable performances that served as a transparent reminder why she is such a beloved champion and feared opponent. Nobody scraps higher than Victoria Azarenka.

Honor Roll

Ons Jabeur: If there’s something the Indian Wells fortnight underlined, it was simply how beloved Jabeur is within the tennis neighborhood. The Tunisian secured her historic High 10 debut by advancing to the semifinals, defeating her buddy Anett Kontaveit in straight units to arrange one other pleasant matchup with Badosa. With the win, the 27-year-old grew to become the primary Arab – man or girl – to ever break the ATP or WTA High 10. Billie Jean King shouted it from the rooftops, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick applauded, and Jabeur’s rivals and colleagues from and down the rankings gushed with pleasure for his or her buddy. 

However there was no time to relaxation on her laurels. In with an opportunity to qualify for her first Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara, Jabeur was instantly on a airplane to Moscow and can play on Tuesday on the Kremlin Cup. 

Jelena Ostapenko: If Ostapenko had her method, the 2021 season can be prolonged via December. That is how good the Latvian feels after advancing to her first WTA 1000 semifinal since her run to the 2018 Miami closing. Tallying wins over Hsieh Su-Wei, Yulia Putintseva, Iga Swiatek, and Shelby Rogers, the 2017 Roland Garros champion led Azarenka by a set and a break earlier than the Belarusian discovered a strategy to lengthen rallies and extract errors. The run places Ostapenko again within the High 30.

Hsieh Su-Wei and Elise Mertens: The Wimbledon champions almost discovered themselves bundled out of the match within the second spherical however in any other case loved a dominant two weeks to win their second workforce title and safe qualification for the WTA Finals. 

Extra on the completely entertaining and unpredictable duo right here

Anett Kontaveit: The Estonian had run off 18 consecutive units of tennis earlier than shedding to Jabeur in straight units within the quarterfinals, however it may possibly’t be acknowledged sufficient how spectacular Kontaveit has been since late summer season. Since Cincinnati, Kontaveit has misplaced solely two matches over 5 tournaments, compiling a 16-2 report over that span. Her two losses got here to Swiatek on the US Open and Jabeur in Indian Wells. 

Leylah Fernandez: The Canadian teenager continues to be a field workplace draw. As she did in New York, the US Open finalist has the uncanny means and on-court charisma to make each match she performs a riveting efficiency. Whether or not it was her shot-making masterclass in opposition to Alizé Cornet within the second spherical or her three-set battles with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (win) or Shelby Rogers (misplaced), the fiery introvert attracts you in and takes you on a journey. 

Jessica Pegula: In every other 12 months that didn’t necessitate frozen rankings, Pegula can be in with a shot of ending her beautiful 2021 season because the top-ranked American. Ranked No.21 after making her fourth WTA 1000 quarterfinal this season – along with making her first main quarterfinal in February on the Australian Open – Pegula completed out her common season with wins over Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina.

Shelby Rogers: The 29-year-old Charleston-native has gained some vital deciding tiebreaks over the previous few weeks. It is how she shocked No.1 Ashleigh Barty on the US Open and it is how she ousted Fernandez in Indian Wells, successful 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(4) within the Spherical of 16. In New York, Rogers adopted up that large win with a disappointing let-down in opposition to Emma Raducanu within the subsequent spherical. However there was no let-down in Indian Wells. Rogers gave Ostapenko all she might deal with in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 loss within the quarterfinals. 

Iga Swiatek: The final word outcomes may not have been what Swiatek hoped for in her match debut – the 2020 French Open champion misplaced to Ostapenko within the Spherical of 16 in singles and blew a 6-1, 4-1 lead within the second spherical of doubles to eventual champions Hsieh and Mertens. However the shock announcement after her third-round win, that she can be donating $50,000 of her prize cash to a psychological well being non-profit in honor of World Psychological Well being Day brought on a ripple and raised essential consciousness. 

Aliaksandra Sasnovich: The affable Belarusian seemed on the draw, noticed her identify surrounded by main champions, and laughed. Then she gained. Sasnovich didn’t lose a set as she took down US Open champion Raducanu and two-time champion Simona Halep in back-to-back matches, incomes a first-time assembly with Azarenka. Sasnovich bowed on the market, however she as soon as once more confirmed why seeded gamers by no means need to see her identify subsequent to theirs within the early rounds of a match. 

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