Veronika Kudermetova (L) returns a shot to Paula Badosa during the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Thursday. AFP
Defending champion Paula Badosa cruised past Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-2 to book a semifinal showdown with Maria Sakkari in the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters on Thursday.
Spain’s Badosa saved the only break point she faced in the 1hr 23min clash on a sunsplashed Stadium Court, notching her first win in four career meetings with Kudermetova.
“I think it’s the court it does magic with me,” Badosa said of the venue where she lifted the trophy in October, when the tournament was moved from its usual March slot because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Badosa, who has reached the last four without dropping a set, said a solid service game and aggression in the rallies was the key to her first win over Kudermetova.
Now she’s looking ahead to Sakkari, who edged past her into sixth in the world rankings last week as the Spaniard slipped to seventh.
Paula Badosa returns a shot to Veronika Kudermetova during the quarterfinals match. AFP
Sakkari, coming off a run to the final in Saint Petersburg, powered into the semi-finals 7-5, 6-4 victory over Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina.
The Greek 26-year-old is in search of a second WTA title after capturing her first at Rabat in 2019.
She made the semi-finals at the US Open and French Open in 2021 to signal her intent and was seeded in the top 10 of a Slam for the first time at the Australian Open only to exit in the fourth round.
In a battle of big-hitters, Sakkari shook off an early break that had her trailing 4-1 in the first set, winning six of the next seven games to pocket the opener.
She saved four break points in her first service game of the second set, then broke Rybakina for a 2-1 lead that stood up the rest of the way.
“I just had hope and faith in myself and I just told myself try to make it physical, try to make a lot of balls,” Sakkari said.
“I was not serving great the first couple of games but I’m very pleased that I’m in the semi-finals of a tournament that I hadn’t won a match at in four years.”