Indian Wells: Jabeur v Badosa in SF, Dimitrov wins again

  • Matt Trollope

Ons Jabeur and Paula Badosa continued their excellent 2021 seasons after both won their quarterfinals in straight sets on Thursday at Indian Wells. 

Jabeur ended Anett Kontaveit’s nine-match, 17-set winning streak with a 7-5 6-3 triumph while Badosa withstood a second-set fightback to beat Angelique Kerber 6-4 7-5. 

Jabeur and Badosa will now face off in one semifinal while the other pits Victoria Azarenka against Jelena Ostapenko.

With her win on Thursday, Jabeur is guaranteed to become the first Arab tennis player to crack the world’s top 10.

Another player continuing their brilliant season was Cameron Norrie, who trounced No.11 seed Diego Schwartzman 6-0 6-2 to reach the biggest semifinal of his career.

Norrie will play for a place in the final against Grigor Dimitrov, who produced another stirring victory -- this time to defeat eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz.

The Bulgarian let slip a 5-2 lead in the third set before steadying to win 3-6 6-4 7-6(2), backing up his incredible come-from-behind win over No.1 seed Daniil Medvedev a day earlier.

“Consistency has been the key,” Dimitrov said of his resurgence. 

“You try to find that balance between playing, practicing, resting, eating, sleeping. Really I'm a strong believer in all those things. I think if you do them the right way ... it's where you're going to sort of build yourself up and establish yourself a little bit more on your own path, which I'm a big believer in, as well.

“I think these past weeks, I've just been doing things for what I think is important to me and the things that are important for my game. That's it. Nothing else.” 

Dimitrov has indeed enjoyed a surge in southern California, reaching back-to-back semifinals in San Diego and Indian Wells and winning seven of his last eight matches.

But Norrie is in arguably even better form, with his beatdown of Schwartzman delivering him a 49th match win of 2021. 

More notably, the 26-year-old is projected to crack the top 20 and become the new British men’s No.1.

“For my biggest match of my career to play like I did and execute like I did was the biggest thing that I'm most happy with today,” said Norrie, who has won his past five tournament semifinals.

“I'm just really pleased to be playing my best level at these bigger events. Just enjoying the process and enjoying playing the bigger matches. 

“There is always going to be a bigger match and a bigger opportunity.”

Jabeur has been similarly prolific on the WTA Tour, earning her 48th win of the season with her impressive defeat of the in-form Kontaveit. 

And like Norrie, the Tunisian has advanced to the biggest semifinal of her burgeoning career.

“I'm glad that I got the win and looking forward to play (again). Why not get the title here?” Jabeur said.

“I know I deserve this place from a long time since I was playing well. But I want to prove that I deserve to be here, I deserve to be one of the top 10 players.

“I'm very happy, a lot of emotions right now, but I'm still in competition so I'm trying to calm down and not overthink about top 10. 

“I just believed in myself, I worked hard, and this is just the beginning of great things.”

Badosa notched some history of her own on Thursday, becoming the first Spanish woman in 18 years to progress to the last four in the Californian desert. 

She surged to a 5-2 lead in the second set and held two match points before Kerber, a three-time major champion, staged a comeback.

But despite the gritty German levelling scores at 5-5, Badosa did not panic, winning eight of the final 11 points to seal victory.

“I've been seeing her (Kerber) since I'm seven years old. She's been an amazing champion. Three years ago I was on the sofa watching her play the finals of Grand Slams. Imagine, I was 200 (in the world),” Badosa reflected.

“For me it was amazing to play against her today. At the beginning it was strange for me. She runs a lot. She sees all the balls where you're going to hit. It's quite tough for me at the beginning and at the end as well.

“I knew I had to stay aggressive and stay on my game plan. That's what I did. I think I served well as well. I'm happy.”