The title marks the return of Stefani and consolidates Matos

Stefani and Matos made history as the first Brazilian duo to win a Grand Slam

Photo: Jimmie48/WTA

Mrio Srgio Cruz

Luísa Stefani and Rafael Matos’ historic feat of becoming the first all-Brazilian partnership to win a Grand Slam in professional tennis, with the Australian Open mixed doubles title, is the culmination of two successful trajectories. in sports in recent years. years. Increasingly present in the final stages of high-level tournaments, Stefani crowned his return to the courts, while Matos consolidated the best moment of his career.

It never hurts to remember that Stefani was away from the tour for more than a year, after suffering a serious knee injury in the doubles semi-final of the 2021 US Open. the São Paulo native was going through a spectacular phase, which included an Olympic game. bronze medal alongside Laura Pigossi in Tokyo, two consecutive WTA 1000 finals with the Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski in Montreal and Cincinnati, with a title and a second, she had reached the top 10 of the rankings and had her best Grand Slam campaign until ‘now.

Suffering from a cruciate ligament injury, the tennis player needed surgery and a long convalescence. A year later, he returned to the Flushing Meadows complex in New York to train and create better memories of the US Open courts before resuming his competitive routine.

Since her return to the circuit, Stefani has already won five trophies, and with five different partners. In the first tournament, he played alongside Dabrowski and won the WTA 250 in Chennai. At the end of last season, he celebrated his second WTA 1000 in Guadalajara, with the Australian Storm Hunter as his partner. She also won on clay, forming a Brazilian duo with Rio de Janeiro’s Ingrid Martins at WTA 125 in Montevideo. Already at the beginning of 2023, he joins the North American left-hander Taylor Townsend to be champion in Adelaide. In addition, of course, to the feat alongside Matos.

Frustration of being without a partner at the last minute
In Melbourne, however, Stefani had to deal with frustration before securing the title. She would play women’s doubles with American Caty McNally, who retired from competition ahead of her debut due to a thigh injury. She does not hide her disappointment, but managed to focus 100% on the mixed doubles match.

“I had a bit of bad luck. My partner pulled out at the last minute. I was sad, very upset. I won’t deny it, I cried a lot, but at the same time I knew it was out of my control,” he said. “Then I had the chance to start again the next day with Rafa. I was very excited about mixed doubles, confident from the start and hungry to win because I didn’t have the opportunity to play regular doubles. J put the disappointment aside and put all that desire into mixed doubles, because I was super excited to play my favorite Grand Slam.”

On her return, she said: “I was in the best moment of my career when the injury happened in the semi-finals. It was maybe the most important match of my life so far, outside of the Olympics. So it was a big shock. I said, “I’ve been away from tennis for a long time. At the same time, I really tried to use this time wisely, in the best way possible. Obviously, rehabilitation is difficult. Everyone says it. But I think there are a lot of good things you can learn from it,” Stefani said at Friday’s press conference.

“Everyday is not easy. With or without injury, we go through a lot of adversity with our body and mind in tennis, sport in general, especially at a high level. Now my biggest goal is to stay healthy. good health, trusting my body. I think the biggest issue with injuries is trauma, and thinking about how much your body lets you down after working so hard. You work really hard to recover and keep going. It’s a big trip.

Born in São Paulo, Stefani moved to the United States as a teenager, first to train at Saddlebrook Academy in Florida, then to compete on the North American College Tour at Pepperdine University in California. . Between 2015 and 2018, still based in the United States, he devoted himself in part to the ITF professional circuit. He chose to drop out of college to play full-time professional tennis from mid-2018 and has been very successful.

At 25, he already has six titles in 14 finals played on the WTA circuit and has already recovered almost all the way to the rankings, appearing in 34th position with only seven tournaments played since his return to the courts. She has also reiterated on several occasions her desire to try to succeed in singles, and there is no doubting her enormous potential.

With a great season, Matos takes the lead in doubles

The feat is symbolic for left-hander Rafael Matos. The 27-year-old from Rio Grande do Sul takes on the responsibility of continuing the legacy of Brazilian men’s doubles tennis. Over the past decade, fans of the modality in the country have grown accustomed to the conquests of Bruno Soares, with six Grand Slams, and Marcelo Melo, with two more and the leadership of the modality’s rankings. Soares ended his professional career last year, while Melo remains active at 39.

Since devoting himself exclusively to doubles competitions, Matos has continued to climb the rankings and accumulate exploits. After winning his first two ATP doubles tournaments with São Paulo’s Felipe Meligeni in Córdoba and Santiago, the gaucho left behind the smaller singles tournaments for the chance to play in the main events of the calendar as a doubles player. . He teamed up with Spaniard David Vega Hernandez and celebrated his achievements in Marrakech, Mallorca, Bastad and Sofia. With six ATP titles, he is already in 29th place in the rankings, two positions from his best ranking.

It’s a very special achievement, even more so to be alongside another Brazilian and a great friend,” Matos said. “It’s a childhood dream. I can’t even describe how I feel. It’s very rewarding and a huge joy to look back and see how hard you’ve worked.”

He also noted the eventual victory over the experienced Indian duo of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna at 7/6 (7-2) 6/2 and welcomed the opportunity to play on the main courts in Melbourne. “It’s an honor to play against two tennis legends. Super champions. With all the experience they have, and yet we realized that they were as nervous as us,” he said. he said, in an interview with TennisBrazil. “We played Margaret Court in the round of 16 and then only Rod Laver. We can’t do better than that, just win. It’s for moments like that that we work”.

Laura Davis

"Total troublemaker. Alcohol aficionado. Social media specialist. Friendly travel nerd."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *