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Paula Badosa returns to New York with US Open title hopes

Paula Badosa of Spain hits a shot against Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia during her second round match on Day 5 of the Western & Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 17, 2022 in Mason, Ohio (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

The US Open holds special meaning for Paula Badosa.

The New York-born Spaniard is aiming to claim her maiden major title in front of a friendly crowd. The 24-year-old’s run at Flushing Meadows will start Tuesday as she takes on Lesia Tsurenko in the tournament’s first round.

“With the energy of the tournament and the city, it’s like you’re awake all day,” Badosa told David Kane of the WTA during her 2019 US Open run. “New York has a special place in my heart, and I told my coach that I’ll even come here for my holidays.”

If the world No. 4 advances past No. 89 Tsurenko, she will find herself in the midst of heavy hitters. Her quarter of the draw includes reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu as well as Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams.

Should she move on to the quarterfinals, Badosa is projected to run up against No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka, against whom she holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage.

Deploying an aggressive style of play, Badosa’s powerful baseline game has paid off on her preferred surface of clay. Now, the young star will hope to translate her success on dirt to hard-court triumph.

While Badosa exited US Open warm-ups in Canada and Cincinnati early, she boasts an impressive 68.3 win percentage through the 2022 hard-court season, having played the fifth-most matches on the surface. Her confidence should be buoyed by a hard-fought two-set victory over Coco Gauff at August’s Silicon Valley Classic and a quarter-final campaign at Wimbledon.

Despite her breakthrough 2021 season and solid 2022 campaign, Badosa has yet to produce a deep run at a major tournament, though she did make the 2021 WTA semifinals.

New York could be her opportunity to shine on the sport’s biggest stage in a city she loves.