The mythical legend concerning Southern California weather has been de-bunked. It does rain in Southern California and it is quite gusty in the desert. Monday’s matches at the BNP Paribas Open had added twists and turns of high winds, sandy blasts and schedule shifts. The players that prevailed today are those who found ways to adapt, to be patient and to accept the things they cannot control. It is cliche but, when you focus on you, your game and what you can control, the payoffs come.
On Monday we lost defending 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu [CAN], 2018 BNP Paribas Open finalist Daria Kasatkina [RUS], top seed Karolina Pliskova [CZE], seed No.22 Danielle Collins [USA], American teens Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova, as well as 2021 breakouts Viktorija Golubic [SUI] and Tamara Zidansek [SLO].
Seed No.21 Paula Badosa was a great example of managing the conditions rather than letting them manage you. In her presser after the 6-2 6-2 victory over 15th-seeded Coco Gauff, we saw a very upbeat self-assured woman.
The 23-year-old Spaniard spoke of the difficulty of the windy playing conditions. She assessed the hand she was dealt, considered her options and put a plan in motion. She went for the bigger margins, playing balls to the middle of the court. This gave her confidence to press Gauff with her power.
She kept in focus what she could control, which was certainly not the weather, or how her opponent would respond. One thing we do not discuss enough in tennis is the importance of great decision-making. Today Badosa saw a problem, took decisive action and turned a problem into a strength.
Badosa knew Gauff and her game quite through doubles competition. The world No.27 from Spain advances to the fourth round where she will face Barbora Krejcikova. Manhattan-born Badosa might want to adopt the USA as a “temporary home” to seize home court advantage. Another opportunity?
In a similar light, Ajla Tomljanovic, spoke of taming her own windy demon after her 6-4 6-3 victory over seed N0.26 Tamara Zidansek.
Earlier today Diego Schwartzman advised Tomljanovic, “to make the wind her friend.” Quite a philosophical approach that worked. One cannot fight the wind or anything that Mother Nature brings. That was sage advice. It seems the 47th-ranked WTA player listened to the man who knows how to maximize potential.
Tomljanovic was up 3-0 in the second set and then found herself at 3-3. She was irritated until she “reminded herself” that she is playing a very capable opponent and that she cannot expect to just run over her. Her grasp on staying in the moment and self-belief is clearly clicking.
The BNP Paribas Open WTA Singles Round of 16:
[LL] Beatriz Haddad Maia [BRA] vs. No.18 Anett Kontaveit [EST]
No.12 Ons Jabeur [TUN] vs. [Q] Anna Kalinskaya [RUS] (Yes, another qualifier… smile.)
No.3 Barbara Krejcikova [CZE] vs. No.21 Paula Badosa [ESP] (A battle of friends).
No.10 Angelique Kerber [GER] vs. Ajla Tomljanovic [AUS]
No.27 Victoria Azarenka [BEL] vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich [BEL]
No.19 Jessica Pegula vs. No.4 Elina Svitolina [UKR]
No.23 Leylah Fernandez [CAN] vs. Shelby Rogers [USA]
No.2 Iga Swiatek [POL] vs. No.24 Jelena Ostapenko [LAT]
Note: Iga Swiatek fell in the round of 16 with doubles partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands. No doubt the Arizona native will cheer on her partner all the way to the final if needed.
We have seen a lot this week; twenty-eight three-set matches, many ending 7-5, and twenty tiebreaks. The very gritty slow courts require extreme physicality to earn points. None of that changes as we head into the home stretch.
It is also interesting that we have one former champion remaining, Victoria Azarenka, who took out Angelique Kerber in the 2012 edition of this desert paradise event where she captured the title. The pressure mounts as the hunger for success grows. Don’t go anywhere.