Abu Dhabi: Within a 10 months after reaching a career-high of world No 2, Paula Bedosa’s dream came crashing down when she had to pull out of the Australian Open earlier this year due to injury, which virtually ruined her enite year.
The 26-year-old Dubai resident is back on court for the first time since pulling out of the second round of the Wimbledon Championships in the Meteora World Tennis League in Abu Dhabi and is looking forward to a better year.
“It’s been tough months for me and after struggling a lot, I am finally I am on court and I can say I’m healthy, I’m feeling good and really looking forward to next year,” Bedosa said after her team SG Mavericks Kites overcame a stiff challenge from Honor FX Falcons to extend their lead at the top of the table.
I’m getting there. I think I’m 80 per cent fit but it’s already a big improvement because a month ago I wasn’t able to step on a court. I think I’m getting there.”
The Spaniard has plenty of support on her return as she has been partnering her boyfriend Stefanos Tsitsipas and her best friend Aryna Sabalenka in the Kites team.
Reclaiming the top spot
“This tournament has helped me a lot because it’s is the first time I am back on court after many months out. So for me being able to play even if it’s doubles, because I really have to start slowly, to be able to play with the best players in the world, it’s something that it’s very good for me and it’s a big test,” she added.
Badosa is not worried after being out the Top 50 in the yearend rankings and feels she will try to avoid the mistakes that had cost her dear and aims to reclaim her top place in the new season.
“Yes, I dropped out of the top 50, but it was something that I couldn’t control because it’s an injury. I will try to avoid as much as I can. My goals for the new season is to stay healthy, that’s the most important one, and, of course, I want to get back to the top and be with the best players in the world,” she added.
While Bedosa has seen many positives in the tournament, he friend Sabalenka seems to extending her stunning run in the year, showcasing her best during her win over Elena Rybakina in a crucial match at the Etihad Arena.
Sabalenka's ongoing battle with Rybakina
Down 2-5 in the one-set match, the world No 2 was at her aggressive best to win the match on tie-break, which brought both Kites and Falcons level on points. The Belarusian won the Super Tie-breaker 10-6 to extend her winning run over Rybakina. Earlier this year, Sabalenka, after losing the first set, rallied to beat Rybakina in the Australian Open final to win her first Grand Slam title. The pair have met six times before with Sabalenka holding a 4-2 advantage.
“I don’t know how managed to turn the match around, probably it was a lot of the team effort. I won because of my team,” Sabalenka told the courtside interviewer after her win. “We played a lot of times against each other for long. My teammates were helping me to stay positive and that’s why I was able to fight her for every point.”
Sabalenka felt playing a team event is more fun and helps here overcome a close contest.
“Yes, it is a lot of fun and a bit different. But it is better playing a team sport more than like this than being there myself. I really enjoyed this team.”
Kites and Falcons, both level on points at the start of the day, were engaged in a close battle with neither willing to concede an inch. The first two matches went to the tie-breaker and Taylor Fritz and Sorana Cirstea managed to win 7-5. After three loses with the Falcons soaring high, Grigor Dimitrov engineered the Kites’ comeback when he demolished the world No 10 Taylor Fritz 6-3 before Sabalenka sealed the day with a win.
In the second match of the day, both PBG Eagles and TSL Hawks showed plenty of intentions to move from the bottom of the table with an engrossing battles. World No 1 Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz put the Hawks on a winning path only to see the Eagles coming back strongly with Sofia Kenin and Mirra Andreeva shocking Swiatek and Caroline Garcia and Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev following it up with another win on tribreaker.
Daniil Medvedev provided a perfect finishing touches to Eagles' day after edging out to Hubert Hurkacz on a tie-break. With both teams finishing on identical 28 points, a Super Tiebreak was used to break the deadlock and the world No 3 eased to a 10-4 win to keep the Eagles afloat.
With the final day on Saturday, the clashes could get even more engrossing as not much differentiates all the four teams. Kites continue to lead with 60 points, followed by Falcons in second spot at 57. Eagles have moved to the third spot with 53 points while Hawks are at the bottom of the table with 52 points.