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Paula Badosa Beats Victoria Azarenka to Win 2021 Indian Wells Women's Final

Erin WalshOctober 17, 2021

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Paula Badosa of Spain celebrates winning the first set against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during the final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden October 17, 2021 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Sunday's BNP Paribas Open women's singles final between Victoria Azarenka and Paula Badosa was one of the best matches of the year as it came down to a tiebreaker in the third set.

Badosa won the Indiana Wells final for the first time in her fledgling career, defeating Azarenka 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (2) in Southern California.

The Spaniard had never faced Azarenka before this match and knocked off some of the world's best players en route to the final, including Barbora Krejcikova, Angelique Kerber and Coco Gauff.

Many believed Azarenka would get an easy victory, but in a back-and-forth battle, Badosa looked more confident as the games went on in the first set, winning 7-6. In the tiebreaker, the No. 21 seed almost threw away a 4-0 lead, allowing No. 27 Azarenka to even things up 5-5 before winning 7-5 to take the set.

BNP Paribas Open @BNPPARIBASOPEN

Set Stats<br><br>Points: 55-55<br>Time: 1 hr 20 minutes<br>Entertainment level: Off the charts<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BNPPO21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BNPPO21</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/paulabadosa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@paulabadosa</a> <a href="https://t.co/xeuiH4PmwL">pic.twitter.com/xeuiH4PmwL</a>

Some took note of how Badosa took the fight right to Azarenka and didn't quit:

JosΓ© Morgado @josemorgado

INSANE rally and Paula Badosa takes the first set against Victoria Azarenka 7-6(5), in 79 minutes.<br><br>Fun set.

We Are Tennis @WeAreTennis

GOD WHAT A SET!! <br><br>Paula Badosa takes command after an awesome 1st set 7-6 vs Azarenka <a href="https://t.co/Y0w3CgrfyB">pic.twitter.com/Y0w3CgrfyB</a>

David Law @DavidLawTennis

Improve your day and turn on Paula Badosa vs. Victoria Azarenka in the Indian Wells final. <br><br>It’s fantastic. An hour and 16 minutes and the first set is still going.

The second set was a completely different story as Azarenka looked as dominant as she had all night.

Badosa looked a step slower as Azarenka turned things around, jumping out to an assertive 3-0 lead before winning 6-2 with an ace to force a decider for the BNP Paribas Open title.

BNP Paribas Open @BNPPARIBASOPEN

Never count her out πŸ’ͺ<br><br>The two-time champion blasts past Badosa to claim the second set 6-2 and force a decider for the title!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BNPPO21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BNPPO21</a> <a href="https://t.co/ylZZKJKC2n">pic.twitter.com/ylZZKJKC2n</a>

The tide began to turn back in Badosa's favor early in the third set, which was far more competitive than the second. Badosa jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Azarenka refused to give in, winning the third and fourth games to tie Badosa 2-2.

wta @WTA

The level of tennis continues to RISE in this final πŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ<a href="https://twitter.com/vika7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@vika7</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BNPPO21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BNPPO21</a> <a href="https://t.co/Zn4EqY3qpL">pic.twitter.com/Zn4EqY3qpL</a>

The fifth game of the final set was the most entertaining, as Badosa and Azarenka went back and forth before the latter ended it with an ace to take a 3-2 lead.

However, it was Badosa in the end who took the final set 7-6 to win the BNP Paribas Open title. She won in a 7-2 tiebreak.

BNP Paribas Open @BNPPARIBASOPEN

πŸ‘‘ Queen of the Desert πŸ‘‘<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BNPPO21?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BNPPO21</a> <a href="https://t.co/dtPRxgzIto">pic.twitter.com/dtPRxgzIto</a>

As many noted throughout the afternoon, the match between Badosa and Azarenka was arguably the best of the year.

The Tennis Podcast @TennisPodcast

This is one of the best matches of the year, yes?

The match was the biggest of Badosa's career thus far. She previously defeated Ana Konjuh at the Serbian Open in May, her only WTA win.

Entering Sunday, Azarenka had won 21 WTA singles titles, including two Grand Slam singles, six Premier Mandatory singles and four WTA Premier 5 singles. If she had won this match, she would have been the first woman to win three titles at Indian Wells.

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