“I get along very well with all my teammates on the circuit, but on the track I don’t have friends, I know how to separate the two things.” Paula Badosa said it when asked about his matchup against Marta Kostyuk, 19-year-old Ukrainian and 66th in the world with which it maintains a good relationship. In fact, last year, they supported each other during the long lockdown in Melbourne, when they both came down with COVID. This Friday, the Spanish showed that she was not lying when making that statement and she could with her colleague: 6-2, 5-7 and 6-4 in 2h19. In this way, she got into the round of 16 of the tournament for the first time and on Sunday she will face the American Madison Keys, who came back against the Chinese Qiang Wang (4-6, 6-3 and 7-6 (2)) . “I am super motivated and excited to be in the ‘second week’ of the tournament and I think I am playing very well”, commented before receiving a standing ovation.

At 24 years old, Badosa, on a low-key day on serve, ran the match on veteran streaks against a child prodigy who reached the third round at the 2018 Australian Open when she was just 15. It was his Grand Slam debut. The following year, Paula lowered her in the previous one and her career, which pointed to meteoric, stalled. Now she has once again shown that she has the potential to be among the best (“She will be sure,” said the Catalan) because she has tennis and a lot of character. But this time he ran into a tennis player who already is and whom he considers his mirror. In fact, in the match it was difficult to distinguish them, because they wore an identical kit, with a white visor and they are both blonde. The height difference (1.71 the Ukrainian and 1.80 the Spanish).

In the first set, Badosa broke Kostyuk three times in a row. At the beginning of the second, he did it again and seemed to have the game on track. Although after saving three break points, the fourth escaped him and for the first time he was behind on the scoreboard. His body language was worrying, and he tried to regain his confidence with wonderful passing and tremendous winners (he had 25 in all). But in a long twelfth game, she conceded another break and the match dragged on to the delight of the spectators at Margaret Court Arena.

spectacular ending

Luckily for Badosa, his opponent paid for the effort of the comeback attempt and although he kept trying to take time away from him and despair to the number six with good shots, she was in tune again, improved her first serve percentage and imposed stripes to overcome the adversities that came her way in the form of breaks and long exchanges. Kostyuk saved two match-points on his serve and another two on return. He couldn’t with the fifth. The hug of both in the network, of affection, respect and admiration, to remember in a friendly rivalry that promises.

Australian Open women’s draw.