Aryna Sabalenka in 'uncomfortable' development with friend Paula Badosa at Miami Open

Sabalenka is competing at the Miami Open just days after the death of her partner.

Spain's Paula Badosa has spoken out about her upcoming match against "best friend" Aryna Sabalenka and how difficult it will be after the tragic death of the Belarusian's boyfriend. The tennis stars are set to meet each other in the second round of the Miami Open days after news of the tragic death of Konstantin Koltsov, whom Sabalenka had been dating for the last few years.

Police have described Koltsov's death in Miami as an "apparent suicide", with authorities revealing earlier this week "no foul play is suspected" in the 42-year-old former ice hockey star's death. Koltsov was in Miami this week with Sabalenka to watch his girlfriend play at the WTA 1000 event.

Paula Badosa is set to play Aryna Sabalenka at the Miami Open days after the death of the Belarusian's boyfriend. Pic: Getty
Paula Badosa is set to play Aryna Sabalenka at the Miami Open days after the death of the Belarusian's boyfriend. Pic: Getty

News of the tragedy has sparked a flood of messages from across the sporting world, with Sabalenka's tennis peers offering their condolences to the two-time major winner. The Belarusian was seen practising for the Miami Open in the hours following the news of her boyfriend's death, and is set to face Badosa in the second round, after the Spaniard beat Simona Halep in her return to tennis from a doping ban.

Seen here, Aryna Sabalenka with her late boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov.
Aryna Sabalenka is seen here with her late boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov. Image: Instagram/Getty

Paula Badosa says Aryna Sabalenka match is 'very tough'

Badosa revealed that Sabalenka is her "best friend" on tour and spoke about how difficult it will be coming up against her in Miami under such heartbreaking circumstances. "It's a very tough situation," Badosa said. "Yesterday I spoke with her. This morning the same. I know the entire situation, what is happening.

"That for me is a little bit shocking also to go through that because at the end she's my best friend and I don't want her to suffer. It's a very tough situation. The Spaniard admitted that playing against Sabalenka is going to be "uncomfortable" but praised the strength her friend had shown amid such heartbreak.

"Playing against her, it's also uncomfortable," Badosa added. "But I don't really want to talk about it because I said I'm not going to talk about it. She's my best friend and I promised that. She's a strong woman. I think she will get the power from somewhere. I hope it's going to be a battle, a good match."

Konstantin Koltsov's death rocks sporting world

Koltsov had won a title with Salavat Yulaev as an ice hockey player in 2008 and had recently returned as an assistant coach to help the team. He had played 144 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the US. The news has rocked fans, with the Belarusian a very popular player on tour.

Belarus national team coach Dmitry Baskov called Koltsov's death "an irreparable loss." He said in a statement: "Konstantin was one of the undisputable leaders of our team, a talented progressive coach, a bright player. He was an example of sturdiness, hard work, dedication and an idol for many Belarusian boys and his colleagues. It's hard and unfair when such people leave so early."


Sabalenka has won the last two Australian Open titles, which had catapulted her to World No.1 after this year's tournament. The couple had been dating for the last few years with Sabalenka posting photos of them together on her Instagram account.

Pictured left to right, Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka.
Konstantin Koltsov and Aryna Sabalenka. Image: Instagram

American star Jessica Pegula said earlier this week that fellow players were aware of the tragic news and were offering their support to Sabalenka. "I think all of us all heard about it last night and then obviously there's more news about it this morning, which was just really horrible," she told reporters.

"All you can do is really offer support for however she wants to deal with it. You never know how someone is going to take it or how they want to grieve and everyone's so different. So I think the best you can really do is just offer support. And you know, that's really comforting. I hope for her to know, that even though we're all competitors and we're on kind of the stage where we're trying to beat each other, at the same time, we're still somewhat of a family."

with agencies

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