World number two Aryna Sabalenka comes into this match with Spanish player Paula Badosa as the number one seed despite not winning a tournament since Madrid in May. Badosa comes into this one in superb form having won Indian Wells which saw her crack the top 10 to make it here to Mexico. Don’t get me wrong ,Aryna is a fantastic player having a good year but she suffers a lot of these last set meltdowns that even I am starting to doubt her Grand Slam credentials.
To be fair to her Paula was equally not serving well in the first set. This is a Group Chichen Itza match, the match between other participants Iga Swiatek and Maria Sakkari ending with the Greek winning . Both Paula and Aryna were not serving well, both finishing below 60%. Aryna 43% and Badosa 55% so no surprises double faults were in the double digits realm. We were treated to the point of the point of the match pretty early at 2-1(30-30) first set. Saba is hitting the ball well and deep into the baseline but you got to admire the defense by Badosa always making Aryna play the extra shot. Saba looking sharp early on especially during the long rallies. She got her one and only break of the match at 3-2 with some aggressive tennis. However the turning point of the close set ,which went down to a single break of serve, came the very next game. This time Paula putting pressure on the Aryna second serve. The lady from Spain would win the next 4 games to close out the set 6-4.
With such weak first serve serving, the second serve would be crucial in set two. Saba was the one to be found wanting winning just 43% on second serve. Check out first point of the second set. The serve was slow and gave Paula a chance to play for the point almost straight away. The volley and net coverage at the end of the rally by Aryna wasn’t the best here probably the reason why she lost the point which otherwise she was in control. As the set went on you could see Aryna’s shoulders slump, confidence disappearing. She lost this set mentally right from that opening service game. Just watch 2-0(40-30) Badosa for the double break.Opprtunity here for Saba with Badosa well away from the baseline only to fire a wild backhand well wide. If she is to become a top player who wins grand slams and differs from one that only wins the 250s or so she needs to sort out her psychological approach to matches. Badosa winning it 6-0 in the second set and off to a great start in Guadalajara.