A classic hallmark of sports is a one-on-one competition between a grizzly veteran and a talented newcomer.
BNP Paribas Open fans will be treated to just that kind of clash Sunday in the women’s final as veteran and two-time champion at Indian Wells Victoria Azarenka takes on young Spanish star Paula Badosa, who is playing in Indian Wells for the first time.
Different kinds of history will be on the line as Azarenka, 32, will attempt to be the first woman to win this event three times. Nine players have won it twice. Meanwhile, Badosa, 23, will attempt to be the first woman from Spain to win this tournament. Her countrywoman Conchita Martinez made the final twice in the 1990s, but never won.
More:Spain’s Paula Badosa moves into Indian Wells final, hopes to follow path paved by Osaka, Andreescu
More:Victoria Azarenka returns to BNP Paribas Open final after outlasting Jelena Ostapenko
Badosa also would join rare company in winning this event in her maiden voyage in Indian Wells. Bianca Andreescu in 2019 and Serena Williams in 1997 both accomplished the feat.
But at its core, this will be a matchup of savvy veteran vs. fearless upstart. Does Azarenka feel like she has an advantage, having played in and won the women’s singles finals here in 2012 and 2016.
“I don’t necessarily look at it that way because every match is about writing your different story,” Azarenka said. “None of the years are the same. Different day, different conditions can be. I don’t necessarily think of that. I think it’s more about how you are able to handle the moment that is going to be there.”
Badosa is on what she calls a dream run and will be playing in her first-ever Masters 1000 final, and she’ll be standing across the net from a player she’s looked up to over the years.
“I’ve seen her a lot, a lot of finals, winning Grand Slams, (Masters) 1000 tournaments,” Badosa said. “I know how she’s playing. She’s very intense. She’s a tough one. She’s a competitor. She fights until the last ball. I know it’s going to be a tough one. But I like these kind of matches. I’ve never been through a final, so I can’t wait to play it. I always dreamed to be in one.”
Let’s go to the tale of the tape as far as career numbers to see the disparity between the two aggressive, entertaining players.
Azarenka has 21 singles titles, two Grand Slam titles, was once the No. 1 player and has raked in $33,133,916 in her singles career. She has a 33-8 record in Indian Wells.
Badosa has one title, has never made it past the quarterfinal in any Grand Slam, her highest career ranking is 26, and she’s won $1,955,790 in her career. Badosa is 5-0 at Indian Wells.
Badosa, who is seeded 21 here, has had a remarkable run, beating four straight top 20 players in Coco Gauff, Barbora Krejcikova, Angelique Kerber and Ons Jabeur.
Azarenka, the No. 27 seed here and No. 32-ranked player in the world, outlasted Ostapenko in a grueling semifinal Friday night, and had dispatched No. 7 Petra Kvitova earlier in the tournament.
This will be the first meeting between the two players.
“I’ve never played against Paula. I’ve never really practiced against her,” Azarenka said. “That would be something, a new challenge for me to even understand her ball, her pace. Will be definitely a bit of adaptation there.”
Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.