Brazilian duo Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos yesterday beat India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title in Mirza’s last match at a Grand Slam tournament before she retires.
Mirza, who has won six Grand Slam doubles championships — three in mixed, including the 2009 Australian Open — is to retire next month after a tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Mirza was emotional at the trophy presentation.
“Disclaimer, if I cry it is happy tears,” Mirza said. “I don’t want to take away the moment from Matos-Stefani, who have deserved this.”
The 36-year-old Mirza first appeared at a Grand Slam tournament 18 years ago in Melbourne, when she was beaten by eventual 2005 champion Serena Williams in a third-round match.
“I’ve had the privilege to come back here again and again, and win some tournaments and play some great finals,” Mirza said. “Rod Laver Arena has really been special in my life and I couldn’t think of a better arena to finish my career at a Grand Slam.”
Mirza was 14 years old when she first partnered Bopanna on court.
“It’s truly special for me to play along with Sania,” the 42-year-old Bopanna said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the title, but thank you so much for what you have done for Indian tennis.”
The Brazilian pair took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker and Mirza and Bopanna fought back to 3-2, but that was to be the final points the Indian duo took. They missed two overheads in a row, including Mirza’s shot into the net on set point.
Stefani and Matos broke Mirza’s serve in the fourth game of the second set to go up 3-1, with the break point coming after a lengthy exchange between the teams.
Stefani and Matos are undefeated as a pairing, having won all seven matches together at the United Cup and at Melbourne Park.
Stefani said an invitation from Matos to play together on her return from a serious knee injury provided inspiration as she completed her rehabilitation last year.
“It was about Wimbledon-time last year and he asked me how I was doing,” she said. “I was doing rehab ... that was a big motivation for me to keep working hard and keep getting closer to coming back. Now here we are, winning our first Grand Slam together in Australia in this beautiful court ... it’s a dream come true.”
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