“I am really happy. I’m playing against a US player and I hear my name…I’m happy,” Paula Badosa gave a huge smile after winning over Elizabeth Mandlik in a frustrating 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 Round of 16 match. The opening set was more like the Badosa fans and tennis community know. She was playing aggressive, confident and dominated the court and her opponent very well. Paula manipulated her with style and grace, opening up the court for winners, volleys, and painting the lines. But the second set was a completely different story with the 240th ranked Mandlik putting on a brilliant show.
The magic had fizzled for Badosa as Mandlik corrected her errors, putting her game back together and blasting strokes at the Spaniard to win 7-5. It was a confusing time for Badosa as she struggled to find the right groove in counteracting a suddenly threatening opponent. At times she would glance at her team who knew she would be the one to have the answers on court. But it was the heat, the torment and confusion that didn’t work in Paula’s favor. “I know sometimes I’m emotional…” Badosa explained. She started to look bewildered as Mandlik would be a break ahead of the Spaniard. This caused more panic but there was a snap of change as Elizabeth pumped in a few unforced errors giving Paula gifted points to bring the match to a tiebreak.
The games were tied at 5-all but the Spaniard kept faith in herself. “I tried to fight and to stay in there,” she’d say as she dug in with each point making it count as a winner. As the tiebreak points widened for Badosa, she began to get more physical and mental energy to win the match. But it was Mandlik, the daughter of the legendary Hana Mandlikova who couldn’t quite put together consistent winning points to get the victory. It was down the stretch that Mandlik’s game collapsed and the last stroke went flying past the baseline to award Badosa the match.”I love playing here,” the smiling Spaniard said on court after her victory. But the feeling was mutual as fans had given the vocal support needed for Badosa to grab the win despite the odds. Luckily, the chances rolled around for Paula Badosa as she came up with success for her huge, struggling efforts.