Sabalenka and Badosa are among the best players in the world, and in the Belarusian's case, she's actually the world number one right now. She has many rivalries with different players; one is against Paula Badosa, who is not just a rival; she's her best friend on Tour.
Due to their close friendship, the rivalry has a certain special flavour because it's a very competitive one on the courts. Off the courts, they're very close as Sabalenka actually described Badosa as her soulmate when she spoke at the 2023 China Open, something you rarely find in these hyper-competitive circles where everybody is essentially enemies.
It is very difficult. It doesn't happen very often that you can find your soulmate on the circuit because we compete against each other. But we had this deal: on the court we are opponents, we can shout whatever we want, but off the court we are friends again.
As two good players, Sabalenka and Badosa have played against each other a couple of times. The score is 2-2 right now, and most of those matches are very competitive, partly due to the close relationship they have and how well they know each other.
Sabalenka revealed what happens after they play, admitting that they take a few days to process, and then it's back to business as usual.
We can take a day, depending on who wins, to accept the fact that one of us lost, but then we become friends again. It's hard, and I'm super happy to have her. She is a very nice girl and having her by my side is very important to me.
Sabalenka cherishes the relationship a lot, much like Badosa, and it's a beautiful thing to see.