This is the second time that a 100% partnership has contested a Slam final in mixed doubles
Photo: Tennis Australia
Melbourne (Australia) – For the second time in history, an all-Brazilian partnership will compete in the Grand Slam mixed doubles final. Luísa Stefani and Rafael Matos advanced this Wednesday to the decision of the Australian Open, saving a match-point and overcoming the house duo formed by Olivia Gadecki and Marc Polmans by 4/6, 6/4 in 11-9.
Both Stefani and Matos are in the first Grand Slam final of their professional careers. 25-year-old Paulista, Luísa Stefani already played in a women’s doubles semifinal at the US Open in 2021, when she suffered a serious knee injury. Rafael Matos, 27, from Rio Grande do Sul, finished fourth at Roland Garros in the men’s doubles last year. Both had never made it past the second round of mixed Slam.
A return of respect from Luisa 😎 We’re going to get big in the final of the #AusOpen! 🎾
— Team Brasil (@timebrasil) January 25, 2023
Until today, the only national partnership to play a Slam final in the mixed was Cláudia Monteiro and Cássio Motta in the sabiro of Roland Garros in 1982. In Australia, Brazilian tennis has a mixed doubles title with Bruno Soares, alongside the Russian Elena Vesnina in 2016.
Stefani and Matos face in the final the experienced Indian duo of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, who beat the American Desirae Krawczyk and the British Neal Skupski by 7/6 (7-5), 6/7 (5-7) and 10 -6. Mirza is 36 years old and has three Grand Slam titles in mixed doubles, one with Bruno Soares at the 2012 US Open. Veteran Bopanna, 42, already has a mixed doubles title at Roland Garros in 2017, alongside by Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski.
The start of the match was excellent for Stefani and Matos, who managed to break early and had only lost a point on serve to lead 3/1. But the Australian duo reacted in the final stretch of the set. They returned the break in the sixth game, when Stefani was on serve. The gaucho even saved the first break-points with a good performance in the net, but it was not possible to avoid the tie. Already when winning by 5/4, the Australians would again break Stefani’s service to close the set.
The Brazilian duo reacted in the second set against and returned the score of the initial set. The partial had only one break, with a great performance by Stefani next to the net at the break-point. She and Matos improved their performance in service games, facing only two break-points, and managed to reduce the number of unforced errors.
The definition was left for the match tiebreak, which started with dominance by the servers until 3-3. A great return from Gadecki against Stefani’s serve put the Australian duo 4-3 in front, but soon after Polmans missed a smash and allowed the equaliser. With a ball that touched the ribbon and landed on the Brazilian side, the home team returned to the lead and made it 6-4, but Stefani returned the rival’s service well and equalized the dispute again. The Brazilian made a double fault and the rivals opened 8-7 with Polmans on serve, but he also made a double fault. On Matos’ serve, the Brazilians saved match-point and turned to 10-9 and a return winner by Luísa Stefani defined the victory.