Badosa 'fighting' for tennis career despite doctors' concerns

tennis23 April 2024 17:09| © AFP
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Paula Badosa © Gallo Images

Former world No 2 Paula Badosa on Tuesday vowed to "keep fighting" for her career despite doctors telling her "it would be complicated" to continue playing professional tennis due to a stress fracture she sustained in her back last year.

The Spaniard was told she might have to manage her pain using cortisone shots in order to stay competing and admits she has had many low moments as she tries to come to terms with the medical advice she is being given.

"I cried a lot and I'm still crying sometimes when I hear that and when I have talks with the doctors," Badosa told reporters at the Madrid Open ahead of her first-round match.

"But at the same time, I have this personality, this character that it's like, 'I will still get through it, I will still keep fighting'. I'm like that, I'm a little bit stubborn. But I think maybe that in this case can help."

Besides consulting with doctors, Badosa has turned to many of her colleagues – including Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Bianca Andreescu – who had suffered similar injuries, seeking encouragement.

"Sometimes you just don't want to accept what the doctor says and you're like, 'For sure they're making a mistake'. I just try to stay positive," added the 26-year-old.

"There are some days that I wake up and I'm not feeling that well and I ask myself, 'Is this worth it?'."

Badosa, who did not play last year after exiting Wimbledon in July due to the injury, was forced to retire from her second-round clash with Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in Stuttgart last week with a minor adductor tear.

But she had pushed the world No 2 before that moment, with the players level in a deciding set.

"It's the level that you want to be at, that fighter again. So even though I didn't win in that moment, for moments like that I will keep fighting," she said.

Badosa is undergoing four hours of treatment every day to be ready for the action in Madrid.


Meanwhile, Chinese world No 8 Zheng Qinwen revealed she sustained a leg injury in Stuttgart and is hoping she recovers in time for her opener at the Caja Magica.

Unlike most of her compatriots, Zheng enjoys competing on clay, thanks to her years of training in Spain, where she developed a heavy top-spin on the red dirt.

Her first breakthrough at the Grand Slams came at Roland Garros, when she made the fourth round in 2022, and the 21-year-old will have many eyes on her at the French Open next month after reaching this year's Australian Open final.

"I'm always excited when the clay season is coming but I don't want to be over-excited, because when you get over-excited, the injury comes. Maybe that's why (I got injured)," Zheng said.

"I didn't have a good preparation. So now I have to think, whether I like or I don't like, I have to do the things correct."

Elsewhere, defending champion Sabalenka believes she has to step up her game in order to get back into the 'big three' conversation, alongside her main tour rivals Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina.

Sabalenka has won back-to-back matches just once since she successfully defended her Australian Open title in January.

Swiatek has picked up two WTA 1000 titles in Doha and Indian Wells within that period, while Rybakina has lifted trophies in Abu Dhabi and Stuttgart, along with runner-up showings in Doha and Miami.

"I feel like I kind of dropped my level a little bit (to be part of) the 'big three', I feel like it's been a 'big two' in the last month," confessed Sabalenka.

The second-ranked Sabalenka feels she has proven to be a force on clay and is ready for the tour's most demanding surface.

"I would say that I'm pretty sure that I'll be there and I'll be fighting for every point and if I have an opportunity, I'm sure I'm going to take it. That's my mentality going into the clay season this year," she said.

The Madrid Open kicked off on Tuesday, with the women's final scheduled for Saturday, 4 May.