Badosa recalls quarantine drama ahead of new campaign, Australian Open

A “hard quarantine” in Melbourne at the start of last year left Paula Badosa drained and under-prepared for the Australian Open, but the adversity she experienced, like dozens of other players, eventually propelled the Spaniard toward a break-out season.

The 24-year-old turned her Australian Open frustrations into a 2021 season that featured two titles, including Indian Wells, a berth at the prestigious season-ending WTA Finals and a top-10 ranking.

For Badosa, a positive COVID-19 diagnosis that led to 21 days of quarantine ahead of a tennis major – an experience that she said left her with about two-thirds fitness – is not forgotten. Her outlook now, however, is only positive.

Paula Badosa. Credit:Getty Images

“If I have to start the year like that and finish it like I finish it last year, I would sign [on for it], to be honest,” said the world No.8

“It’s much different. Finally, this year I can enjoy Australia. It’s one country that I like to be [in], and I really enjoy every time I’m here.”

Badosa and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka were two of the women’s players quarantine severely impacted, after they were deemed close contacts of positive coronavirus cases found on three different charter flights which entered Australia.

Badosa was particularly affected after herself returning a positive COVID-19 result. In February, she lamented the lack of a fresh air during hotel confinement.

Quirkily, Badosa and Azarenka have been drawn in the first round of this week’s WTA 500 Adelaide International. It’s also a re-match of the Indian Wells final, where Badosa won in three tough sets in October.

There was a moment of apprehension for Badosa when she arrived in Australia last week and the results of her COVID-19 test took some time.

“Being 21 days in a room doesn’t help anyone. I was feeling very tired, and I needed two more months to recover from all that.”

“It was still on my mind if I have to be honest, when the test result took a little bit more than 12 hours,” Badosa said.

“I thought that maybe I’m going to have the same experience. I had a little bit of drama there.”

Asked whether the events of last February could, in retrospect, be considered helpful, Badosa acknowledged that she developed some patience.

“I have this question a lot and to be honest, no, it didn’t help me. Maybe to learn and have a bit more patience, but [I wish] I could learn another way,” she said.

“It didn’t help me because I did a very long pre-season last year, and I was really prepared to start the new year, and I was feeling strong.

“Being 21 days in a room doesn’t help anyone. I was feeling very tired, and I needed two more months to recover from all that.”

Badosa is motivated by the opportunities that lie ahead in 2022, most immediately in Adelaide against an opponent of Azarenka’s calibre.

“[My] level is getting better and better every day. And I’m very pumped to start the year, very excited,” she said.

“I know I have a very tough match the first match of the year, maybe I expected it. I think it’s the best way to get back to the high level.”

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