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via Reuters

After a little more than three weeks, it’s again time for ‘Sabadosa’ to lock horns on the tennis courts. But this time on the clay courts of Porsche Arena in Stuttgart. Aryna Sabalenka will take on her “soulmate”, Paula Badosa in the R16 of the Stuttgart Open in just a few hours from now. Who will have the last laugh in this intriguing faceoff?

Aryna Sabalenka started his season in an emphatic manner, she reached the final of the Brisbane International and successfully managed to defend her title at the 2024 AO. But after that, she looked pretty much ordinary in the rest of the tournaments this year. Paula Badosa, on the other hand, is still struggling with her form. But the good thing is, she’s looking quite fit right now. It’ll be interesting to see if she can upset her friend from Belarus in Stuttgart.

Aryna Sabalenka vs Paula Badosa: Preview

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The world number 2, Aryna Sabalenka is entering this tournament after facing a third-round defeat to Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina at the Miami Open. She lost that match by a 4-6,6-1,1-6 margin. If we look at the statistics, Aryna Sabalenka who’s known for her powerful serves could only manage to hit 3 aces throughout the match. She committed 6 double faults against Kalinina and her win percentage on first and second serve was 62% and 40% respectively. Sabalenka managed to win only 6 of her service games against the number 32.

However, looking at her statistics for the 2024 season, Sabalenka has managed to hit 97 aces and committed 52 double faults so far. She has won 79.8% of her service games and 42% of her return games. Her first-serve win percentage is currently recorded to be 73%. Both Sabalenka and Badosa share a similar aggressive style of play. They love to fire aces towards their opponents.

Paula Badosa took on 20-year-old Russian tennis sensation, Diana Shnaider in her previous match at the Stuttgart Open. In that match, she fired in 4 aces but committed 10 doubles faults. Her win percentage on the first serve was 66% while it was raised to 76% when it came to her second serve win percentage. Badosa won 10 of her service games against Shnaider. This indicates how the serves are going to play a huge role in deciding the ultimate winning in the ‘Sabadosa’ clash.

The 26-year-old Spaniard has hit 53 aces so far this season and committed 58 double faults. She has won 68.9% of her service games and 29.6% of her return games this year. Her first-serve win percentage for the 2024 season is currently at 68.4%. Let’s now take a look at their H2H scoreline.

Sabalenka vs Badosa: Head-to-Head

This will be their sixth meeting on the tour and third consecutive meeting at the Stuttgart Open. Currently, Aryna Sabalenka leads the head-to-head with a 3-2 margin. Paula Badosa enjoyed some early success in this rivalry against Aryna Sabalenka and she won the first two encounters on the tour. 

They first met each other at the 2021 Cincinnati Masters where Badosa defeated Sabalenka in a three-set thriller. After that, it was again Paula Badosa at the WTA Finals in the same year but this time, she won in two sets. Then, came the sheer dominance of Aryna Sabalenka at the Stuttgart Open. Sabalenka defeated her Spanish friend in the 2022 & 2023 Stuttgart Open. However, their latest meeting came this year at the Miami Open where Sabalenka took the lead over Badosa in their H2H with a 6-4,6-3 victory. Can Badosa make a comeback in the next?

In their previous encounter both the tennis stars managed to hit 3 aces each and committed an equal number of double faults (4). However, the win percentage on the first serve of Sabalenka was 77% while it was only 66% for Badosa. Sabalenka won 88% of her second serve, but Badosa could only manage to win 48% of her second serve. Who’s going to have an edge in this enticing faceoff?

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Prediction: Sabalenka is going to win the ‘Sabadosa’ contest

Aryna Sabalenka has finished as runners-up on her last three appearances at the Stuttgart Open. Although this match will be her first match of the season on clay, she would definitely love to make yet another deep run into this tournament with a win in her opening match. While Paula Badosa reached the SF of this tournament in 2022 and QF in 2023. Both of them are quite familiar with this surface and are equally proven contestants on the clay. It’s the battle between the former world number one versus the former number two.

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Sabalenka won her first clay court title in 2021 at the Madrid Open. She reached the SF of the French Open in 2023. Currently, her win-loss record is 14-4 in the 2024 season. So, records and results are currently favoring the Belarusian over the Spaniard. Paula Badosa won the 2015 French Open girls’ singles title and she reached the QF of the French Open in 2021. This proves that although numbers favor the Belarusian, the Spaniard surely has the potential to throw in a mighty challenge in front of her friend in Stuttgart.