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Paula Badosa, Victoria Azarenka meet in Indian Wells Final


Paula Badosa and Victoria Azarenka will face off in the singles final at Indian Wells after charging to semifinal victories on Friday night.

No. 21 seed Badosa cruised past No. 12 Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-3 to advance to Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open final, breaking the 27-year-old four times for the win. Badosa, in her main draw debut, is the first Spanish woman in 25 years to advance to the championship match at Indian Wells after Conchita Martinez earned runner-up in 1996.

The 23-year-old’s path to the tournament’s final includes wins against French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, Badosa’s fourth top ten victory of the season, and three-time major champion Angelique Kerber.

“Mentally I think I’m very confident,” Badosa said after her semifinal match, “I’m believing every point. Every day I’m working very hard as well.”

Azarenka had the tougher semifinal of the two, coming from behind to down No. 24 seed Jelena Ostapenko 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. Friday’s three-set victory advances No. 27 Azarenka to the Indian Wells final, with the opportunity to become the tournament’s first three-time women’s singles champion.

The former world No.1 is ending the season on a high after a frustrating year on and off the court. “I think my season has been tricky,” Azarenka said, “There were parts where I physically couldn’t bring that extra level, extra fight, which was very frustrating.” Now she says she feels “a bit more settled,” saying she was proud of her “fight” following Friday’s match.

Badosa and Azarenka will both have to call on their mental fortitude once more as the two take the court on Sunday with the BNP Paribas Open title on the line.