Paula Badosa was midway through an on-court interview after another victory at the Miami Open when a thought crossed her mind.
And given where she is right now, it made a lot of sense.
“Why am I speaking English?” she asked. “I think there’s much more Spanish people than English here.”
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A few words in Spanish later, the crowd — always multicultural in the melting pot that is Miami — was roaring in delight.
In whatever language, Badosa is through to the fourth round at the Miami Open after rolling past Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-2 on Sunday.
It is Badosa’s deepest run in Miami, where there were more than a few fans waving Spanish flags in her honour.
“Muchas gracias,” she said.
Badosa came to Miami — the tournament was played on nearby Key Biscayne then — for the first time in 2015 and made it to the third round while being ranked 419th in the world.
She was 222nd when she returned in 2016, then 316th a year later, 130th in 2019 and 71st when she arrived in Miami last year.
But the past 12 months have seen serious change in the world rankings, particularly on the women’s side, and not just after last week’s surprise retirement of Ash Barty — who will come off the rankings April 4 and be replaced by Iga Swiatek as the new No.1 player in the women’s game.
Depending on how the rest of this tournament goes, Badosa might be poised to climb to No.2 when Miami ends.
Badosa will meet unseeded Linda Fruhvirtova for a spot in the quarter-finals, after the 16-year-old from the Czech Republic got past three-time Miami Open winner and 12th-seeded Victoria Azarenka.
Fruhvirtova led 6-2 3-0 when Azarenka — the only past Miami winner who was left in the draw — retired.
“This is what I’ve always dreamed of,” said Fruhvirtova, who entered Miami ranked 279th and will likely climb about 100 spots — more if she keeps winning.
Fruhvirtova becomes the first player under 17 years of age to reach the Miami fourth round since Maria Sharapova and Tatiana Golovin both did so as 16-year-olds in 2004.
Swiatek, playing for the first time since clinching the world No.1 ranking, rolled past Madison Brengle 6-0 6-3.
The Polish ace will face American teenager Coco Gauff, playing about 45 minutes from her home, who overcame a tough test from Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-1) 7-5.
Others to reach the last 16 were Petra Kvitova, Jessica Pegula, Veronika Kudermetova and Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina.