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By Alberto Amalfi | Saturday, March 12, 2022


Feisty 5'2" Jasmine Paolini shocked second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 for her first Top 10 win—and credited a couple of inspirations for her upset.

Photo credit: Getty

Seeing is believing—and second sight infused Jasmine Paolini with confidence she can succeed on hard courts.

The feisty 5'2" Paolini won the final three games shocking second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to register her first career Top 10 win and reach the Indian Wells third round.

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Exploiting 10 double faults from the Wimbledon semifinalist, Paolini did a better job defending second serve and saved six of nine break points beating the third-ranked Belarusian for the second time in three meetings.

"It means a lot," Paolini told the media in Indian Wells. "I didn't play very well this year, at the beginning in Australia. I just tried to fight every point, have a better condition.

"I think here I like the weather, I like the courts, so it helped a little bit I think. I had also good memories from last year. So, yeah, I think it means a lot this win, also because I never won against a top 10 player."

The 46th-ranked Italian credited a couple of inspirations for her biggest career win: Jenson Brooksby and video analysis.

Facing one of the biggest hitters in the sport in Sabalenka, Paolini said she recalled Brooksby's statement that creative placement can conquer power.

"She's not a regular player. She's a player that can hit very strong, many winners," Paolini said of Sabalenka. "But it's not easy to play every point full power.

"I try to stay there, to play my game. Like Brooksby said one time, tennis is not to hit strong the ball, it's doing something different. I think I just try to run, to put the ball as deep as I can, and sometimes also I made some winners.

"Yeah, I'm happy with my performance."

Tennis Express

The 26-year-old Italian does her best work on dirt. Paolini entered this match with a 23-28 career hard-court record and conceded as recently as last year "I didn't believe that I could play on hard courts."

Working with a video analysis specialist has given Paolini second set and the belief she can successfully translate her game to hard courts if she can use her footwork and spacing to give herself enough time to fire her forehand.

"I think I have more confidence on hard courts. I work a lot with - I don't know how is - a guy who make video analysis," Paolini said. "That I think was the key. Before, last year, I didn't believe that I could play also on hard courts. So I was playing pretty well on clay courts, but I had difficulties on hard courts.

"Now I think I believe that I can play also here. So I think that's the key. More tournaments are on hard courts instead of clay courts. I have more chances to do points. That gave me confidence I think during the year."


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