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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday October 14, 2021

Paula Badosa

Two first-time BNP Paribas Open semifinalists will meet for a spot in the most prestigious final of their career.

Photo Source: Getty

Two of the most improved – and most impressive – talents on the ATP Tour in 2021 will meet on Friday for a spot in the BNP Paribas Open final.

Tennis Express

Spain’s Paula Badosa, the No.21 seed who edged 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 7-5, and Ons Jabeur, the No.12 seed who locked up her spot in the WTA’s Top-10 with a 7-5, 6-3 win over 18th-seeded Anett Kontaveit are set to clash in Friday night’s second semifinal at Indian Wells.

Badosa, who lost to Jabeur in three tight sets in the second round at Miami this spring, counts Jabeur among her good friends on tour.

“It's really fun to play against her,” she said. “We're really good friends again so I'm playing another friend. It's going to be a tough one. She's playing amazing, as well.”

On Thursday Badosa had to battle against a legend with a tricky left-handed game. She said it took her a while to adjust to Kerber’s tactical approach, but she handled things well.

“She's really tough player,” Badosa told reporters. “She's really tricky. At the beginning I wasn't expecting – of course I've seen her a lot, but on court she's really tricky, she opens the court a lot. Sometimes she plays short balls but then very long ones. She plays very tactical.”

The Spaniard was also battling a shoulder injury, which has hampered her since the summer.

“It's still bothering me every day,” she said. “I'm just treating and trying to be the best as I can. Of course I can play. Not on my 100 percent maybe. But still when I warm it up and I treat myself, it's okay. When I think that maybe I'm going to play two, three more tournaments maximum, it's okay. I will have time to rest and recover well after all that.”

Jabeur embracing the pressure against Kontaveit

Jabeur had been chasing history all season, and her success had put her in the spotlight this week at Indian Wells. Not only is she battling for a qualifying spot for the Race to Guadalajara, she also locked down a spot in the Top-10 of next week’s WTA Rankings with her victory on Thursday.

She’ll be the first Arab player, man or woman to ever achieve the feat. It’s a lot to deal with for a young woman at the back end of a stressful season but she has handled it superbly.

“I have never been in this situation,” she said. :I never played this long. Never been in top 10 before. It's a lot of things happening at the same time. This is what I've worked for, this is what I want to believe, to achieve,” she said.

Jabeur, who met Billie Jean King for the first time in person last week, coined a phrase made famous by the American legend and pioneer.

“I finally, with maturity and enough experience, am accepting this kind of pressure is a privilege, it's a pleasure to have it,” she said. “When you're young, you don't know. You get too stressed, think about the stress. But it's a good thing. I'm learning every day, trying to manage. It's not easy. Unfortunately some people, they don't understand it's not easy. I'm trying my best. I'm trying to play my game, have fun, really take pressure as a pleasure on court.”

Jabeur improves to 3-1 over Kontaveit, and snapped the Estonian’s nine-match winning streak. The Tunisian notched a tour-leading 48th win in the process.

“Always tough to play against Anett,” she said. “I tried to play my game little bit, but she knows me so well. It was kind of tough to kind of execute those dropshots. I'm pretty glad that I stayed calm when I needed to be. It was very stressful at the end. But I'm glad that I got the win and looking forward to play. Why not get the title here?”


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