(Reuters) - Paula Badosa said she never lost belief in a roller-coaster year as she celebrated capturing the biggest title of her career with a 7-6(5) 2-6 7-6(2) victory over Victoria Azarenka at Indian Wells on Sunday.
The 23-year-old has had to overcame injuries and mental health struggles in recent seasons and endured a tough start to 2021 after she became the only Australian Open player to test positive for COVID-19 in the leadup to the Grand Slam.
Badosa has been on the rise ever since and defeated French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova, three-times Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber and world number eight Ons Jabeur to reach the Indian Wells final where she beat former number one Azarenka.
"The first thing I've learned this week is that nothing is impossible. If you fight, if you work, after all these years, you can achieve anything," Badosa told reporters.
"And to dream. Sometimes you have tough moments. In my case I've been through tough moments. I never stopped dreaming. That kept me working hard and believing until the last moment. Today was the same, I'm really proud of it."
Badosa will now move to a career high world ranking of number 13.
"You know I had a roller-coaster year, disappointments and everything. But after all I've been through in my life it wasn't disappointment," Badosa said.
"That's the good part. When you suffer a lot, when you're young, when you have a bit of disappointment, you don't feel it like that. So that's the good part of what happened.
Badosa will now aim to seal her spot in the season-ending WTA Finals in Guadalajara next month.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)