Fond memories fuel Badosa's Paris love affair

 - Dan Imhoff

Spaniard returns as third seed following breakthrough run to quarter-finals last year

Paula Badosa, Media Day, Roland Garros 2022© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

For all the added obligations that come with being a leading major contender, Paula Badosa remains as big a fan as on her first trip to Roland-Garros as a wide-eyed child.

Much has changed since the Spaniard became a junior Grand Slam champion in Paris seven years ago, and a major quarter-finalist for the first time on the terre battue last year.

That breakout result set in motion her ascent to third seed and with it predictions as a genuine title threat.

Amid training, physio sessions, plus media and sponsor commitments, she still makes time to take in the game from the sidelines.

Childhood memories

“I came as a fan years ago when I was a little girl, so it's always been special… I was 10,” Badosa said.

“I was just coming here almost to see Rafa, because I'm a huge fan.

“He was my idol… I'm still a tennis fan, because I have been here a few days ago already, but I love to watch matches.

“I have been watching qualies matches, because I really enjoy the sport. I really like to see new, different players and different levels.”

Feeling calm

Badosa returns to Paris with a 6-4 record on clay leading in, including a quarter-final defeat to eventual champion Belinda Bencic in Charleston.

She went one better in Stuttgart, with three-set victories over Elena Rybakina – whom she could meet in the fourth round in Paris – and Ons Jabeur before her projected Roland-Garros quarter-final opponent Aryna Sabalenka had her number.


There was no real cause for panic after early losses on home soil to Simona Halep in Madrid and Daria Kasatkina last week in Rome.

“I hope something changes,” she grinned. “No, but I felt different already. I felt a little bit more calm already arriving in this tournament, so maybe it's my reset.

“My team is helping me on that, as well. I like the court, so that helps.”

The 24-year-old plays French wildcard Fiona Ferro in the opening round.

Pressure and expectations were a natural byproduct of that first foray to a Grand Slam quarter-final in Paris last year.

“It's a tough situation that I'm learning. I just want to try to manage as much as I can these kind of things, because everything is very new, so sometimes I get a little bit scared, and I feel that's a little bit big for me,” Badosa said.

“What I'm working on, is to try to feel free on court and try to raise my level. I think that when I feel free and I feel that calm, of course I will have nerves, but that calm, I play well, and I'm competitive.

“So that's what I want to find here and try to find here in Roland-Garros.”

Paula Badosa, Roland Garros 2022, practice© Julien Crosnier/FFT