MELBOURNE (Reuters) – In-form Paula Badosa was enjoying the novelty of life as a seed at the Australian Open on Wednesday as she strode into the third round for the first time with a dominant 6-0 6-3 win over Martina Trevisan on Rod Laver Arena.
The world number six is firming as a contender for a maiden Grand Slam title after winning the Sydney Tennis Classic last week and easing through her first two matches at Melbourne Park for the loss of only seven games.
It is a stark contrast with last year when, ranked 70th in the world, she spent 21 days in Melbourne quarantine after contracting COVID-19 and crashed out in the first round to a qualifier.
“I’m really proud of myself,” the 24-year-old said. “After all, one year ago I was locked in a room.
“So being here and playing centre court — because of me, not because I’m playing a seeded player, because now I’m the seeded player — I’m really happy and proud of myself. It was really special for me to play there.’
Badosa rallied after her inauspicious start to 2021 to win her first two WTA titles, including at Indian Wells, and ended the season reaching the last four at the Tour Finals.
Next up is Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk, who she beat in the final round of qualifying at Melbourne Park in their only previous meeting in 2019.
Badosa, who played with strapping around her right thigh on Wednesday, said she felt in good shape even if she was having to get used to being the hunted rather than the hunter as a top 10 seed.
“Everything is rolling, I’m enjoying (it) day-by-day,” said the Spaniard, who was born in New York to parents in the fashion industry.
“I know I’m going to have tough matches here. It’s never easy playing as a favourite as well, so it’s a new experience for me. Of course I’m nervous, I’m not going to lie. I have pressure. I try to deal with it as best I can.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)