Welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the Australian Open 2023 mixed doubles finals between Indian pair Sania Mirza-Rohan Bopanna and Brazilian duo Luisa Stefani-Rafael Matos. This was Nihit Sachdeva taking you through the action as it unfolded at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
That’s it from the presentation ceremony.
Stefani and Matos receive the winner’s trophy.
Stefani - “Rafa asked me during Wimbledon last year when I was still doing my rehab if I would like to play some mixed doubles. That was a big motivation for me.”
Sania Mirza - “If I cry these are happy tears, not sad tears. First of all congratulations to our opponents. Don’t want to take your moment away. I’m still going to play a couple of tournaments but my professional journey started here in Melbourne when I played Serena Williams in the third round in 2005 as an 18-year-old.”
“Rod Laver Arena has been really special life. I couldn’t think of a better arena to finish my last Grand Slam.”
Rohan Bopanna - “Thank you (Sania) so much for all you have done for Indian tennis. Not only Indian tennis but for inspiring people across the globe.”
Well, Sania could not get the fairytale ending she wanted but nevertheless, she has had a glorious career. Sania and Rohan receive the runner-up trophy.
SECOND SET (* denotes server)
Mirza/Bopanna* 2-6 Stefani/Matos - Sania serves to stay in the set and the final. Overhead volley from Bopanna finishes the point quickly. However, Matos hits a great forehand in the following rally to draw a heavy forehand volley from Bopanna - 15-all. Forehand lob from Sania does not work as Matos hits a great crosscourt overhead smash. Forehand down the line attempted from Sania goes just long. Match point for Brazilians. Bopanna saves one with an overhead smash. Deciding point. Forehand volley from Stefani lands at Bopanna’s feet to end things. Stefani and Matos become the first-ever Brazilian duo to win the mixed doubles crown at Australian Open!
Mirza/Bopanna 2-5 Stefani/Matos* - Matos serves. Forehand volley from Sania right at Stefani’s feet - 15-all. Forehand return from Sania catches the tape. Inside-out forehand from Matos to find the open court does not work as the ball goes long - 30-all. Easy forehand volley for Stefani after a weak return from Sania. Bopanna nets the forehand. Matos holds.
Mirza/Bopanna* 2-4 Stefani/Matos - Bopanna serves. Can’t afford to drop serve again. A T ace to go 30-0 up. Follows it up with an ace wide into the deuce court. Unbelievable defending from Brazilian duo during the 16-shot rally and eventually, error comes from Sania in a backhand volley. Yet another gutsy display of defending from the South Americans and this time, half volley from Sania goes long. Big first serve down the T and Bopanna holds.
Mirza/Bopanna 1-4 Stefani/Matos* - Stefani serve under pressure again as Indians go up 30-15. Wide serve into the ad court, Bopanna’s backhand return just misses the line - 30-all. Sania overcooks the forehand return and the Brazilians lead 40-30. Wide serve into the ad court and this time, Bopanna finds the court with his backhand return down the line. Deciding point. Crosscourt forehand lob from Sania goes just long and Stefani manages to hold.
Mirza/Bopanna* 1-3 Stefani/Matos - Sania serves. Backhand volley from Bopanna goes long after a forehand return down the line from Matos on second serve. Stefani hits a forehand return long. From 40-15 up, Sania has made a forehand and a backhand error and all of a sudden, facing deciding point. A 26-shot rally, the longest of the match, ends with a backhand volley going long from Bopanna. The Brazilians get the break.
Mirza/Bopanna 1-2 Stefani/Matos* - Crunch crosscourt forehand return winner from Sania on Matos serve. Second serve and Bopanna hits the backhand return wide - 15-all. Matos shanks the forehand and the Indians are 30-15 up. Baseline exchange between Matos and Bopanna and it is the Indian who blinks first with a forehand into the net. Serve down the T from Matos, Sania hits the backhand return wide. Another netted forehand from Bopanna. Matos holds.
Mirza/Bopanna* 1-1 Stefani/Matos - Bopanna serves. Stefani comes up with a backhand pass winner at the net. Forehand into the net from Stefani - 15-all. Backhand winner from Bopanna bisecting the two Brazilians. Stefani and Matos keep making the Indians play one extra ball but Bopanna does well to end the point with an overhead smash. Backhand crosscourt volley winner from Sania to close the game.
Mirza/Bopanna 0-1 Stefani/Matos* - Stefani serves first in the second set and is up 40-0 in no time. Love hold.
FIRST SET (* denotes server)
Tiebreaker (Stefani/Matos 7-2 Mirza/Bopanna): Bopanna begins with a double fault. Matos serves and Stefani wins the point with an overhead smash. Dipping forehand from Matos, backhand volley from Bopanna only finds the net. Sania serves and after an amazing backhand crosscourt volley to keep the rally going, Bopanna himself finishes the point with a simple forehand volley between the two Brazilians. Body serve from Sania and Matos nets the forehand return - the Brazilians lead 3-2. Second serve from Stefani, down the T, forehand return from Bopanna allows Matos to put the volley away and go 4-2 up at the change of ends. Stefani serves, wide second serve into the ad court, Sania somehow gets the ball back but it is not enough. Sania nets the overhead and at 6-2, four set points for the Brazilians. Another overhead into the net from Sania and that’s that for the opening set.
Mirza/Bopanna 6-6 Stefani/Matos* - Stefani serving to stay in the set. Begins with an ace wide into the deuce court. Great crosscourt backhand return from Bopanna on second serve and the backhand shot from Stefani goes well wide - 15-all. Wide serve from Stefani, forehand crosscourt return from Sania goes wide. A T ace from Stefani to go 40-15 up. This time, Sania manages to get the return back on Stefani’s wide serve and Bopanna finishes the point with a backhand volley. Net chord helps the Indians as it tipped the Bopanna forehand return over to the other side and eventually, Bopanna hit a forehand which was headed long but got a touch of Stefani’s racquet who tried to get out of the way. Set point. Second serve and Sania nets the return. Tiebreak coming.
Mirza/Bopanna* 6-5 Stefani/Matos - Sania serves. Backhand winner from Matos after Bopanna moves to the same side of the court as Sania’s. Forehand volley from Stefani goes over Bopanna and lands just beyond the baseline - 30-15. Forehand return from Stefani finds the net - 40-15. Both Brazilians at the net, Sania goes for the crosscourt lob but does not execute it well and Stefanis finishes the point with an overhead smash - 40-30. Chance for the South Americans now as Sania tries to lob Matos at the net but fails to do so. Forehand chip return from Stefani goes wide. Sania holds. The Indians are guaranteed at least a tiebreak.
Mirza/Bopanna 5-5 Stefani/Matos* - Matos serves. The Brazilians are in trouble as a backhand slice from Matos goes into the net - 0-30. Matos sees Sania making the move and hits a wide serve into the deuce court for a service winner. Forehand return from Bopanna on Matos’ T serve goes just long - 30-all. Stefani with another lovely backhand volley after a crunch forehand return from Sania. Game point. After a crosscourt exchange, Bopanna decides to go down the line but Stefani comes up with a forehand volley. Game closed.
Mirza/Bopanna* 5-4 Stefani/Matos - Bopanna serving for the set. Stefani sets up the point with a chip return but then hits a backhand return long - 15-all. Stefani does well to come in the middle of the crosscourt exchange between Bopanna and Matos to hit a forehand volley. Bopanna gets to it but his forehand shot is long. Wild forehand from Bopanna and the Brazilians are 40-15 up. Beautiful backhand volley from Stefani and the Brazilians get the break back immediately.
Mirza/Bopanna 5-3 Stefani/Matos* - Stefani serves. Great wide serve into the deuce court, Sania’s forehand return allows Matos to hit a simple volley winner into the open court. Sania wins the volley exchange with Stefani - 15-all. Dipping backhand return from Sania and Stefani misses the half volley again - down 15-30. Wide serve into the ad court but Bopanna comes up with a brilliant backhand return winner down the line. Two break points. Backhand return from Sania allows Matos no time to react at the net. Indians get the break.
Mirza/Bopanna* 4-3 Stefani/Matos - Sania serves. Up 30-0 quickly. A magical, crosscourt dipping forehand from Sania and Matos has no answers to that - 40-0. Sania goes for the lob this time but it is just beyond the baseline. However, she does hold serve as Matos hits the forehand return into the net.
Mirza/Bopanna 3-3 Stefani/Matos* - Matos serves. Bopanna intercepts the baseline exchange between Matos and Sania and gets a fault volley from Stefani but the South Americans still lead 30-15. Not for long though as Bopanna keeps the rally going with a lob and eventually, when the two Brazilians are at the baseline, hits a drop shot - 30-all. Bopanna does well to read the backhand volley from Stefani but his forehand past her lands long. Sania forehand with its full venom destroys the Stefani volley and it is 40-all. Deciding point. Matos holds.
Mirza/Bopanna* 3-2 Stefani/Matos - Bopanna serving. Begins with two aces. Another good first serve down the middle and Sania finishes it with a forehand volley. Backhand winner from Bopanna to wrap up the game. Love hold.
Mirza/Bopanna 2-2 Stefani/Matos* - Stefani to serve. Good forehand return from Sania sets up the point but Bopanna sends a forehand volley down the line wide. Backhand crosscourt return from Bopanna lands right at Stefani’s feet who is unable to execute the half volley - 15-all. Yet another good forehand return from Sania and this time, Bopanna bisects the Brazilians with the backhand volley. A T ace from Stefani makes it 30-all. Backhand return from Sania hits the net chord and goes over Matos’ racquet to find the court. Break point for the Indians. And they do convert it after a heavy forehand from Matos.
Mirza/Bopanna* 1-2 Stefani/Matos - Sania to serve. Up 30-0 in no time. Yet again, Bopanna unable to kill the point with the overhead smash and eventually, a forehand from Sania goes wide. Bopanna intercepts the forehand exchange between Matos and Sania with a backhand volley but it is long - 30-all. Forehand volley from Bopanna goes past Stefani at the net and the Indians are on the scoreboard.
Mirza/Bopanna 0-2 Stefani/Matos* - Left-handed Matos to serve first from the Brazilian duo. Backhand return from Sania on second serve goes long. Double fault from Matos - 15-all. Matos does well to keep the rally going after an overhead smash from Bopanna and eventually Stefani wins the volley battle against Bopanna. Matos shanks a forehand and it goes well beyond the baseline - 30-all. Bopanna sends an easy overhead long after the duo had done well to set up the point. Inside-out forehand from Bopanna goes wide. Break consolidated.
Mirza/Bopanna* 0-1 Stefani/Matos - Warm up is done. Game time. Bopanna to serve. Massive serve from Bopanna and Sania finishes the point with a simple crosscourt forehand volley - 15-all. Bopanna tries to find the vacant court through a title but it’s wide - 30-all. Good exchange at the net between Sania and Stefani and it is the Indian who comes out on top with another delicate crosscourt forehand volley. However, an error on the volley from Sania in the next game and a long forehand from Bopanna means the Brazilians get the early break!
6:32AM - Here we go. The two pairs are on their way through the ‘Walk of Champions’ to the Rod Laver Arena.
6:25AM - Here’s the list of all Grand Slams Sania Mirza has won:
- ⦿ 2009 Australian Open: Mixed Doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi
- ⦿ 2012 French Open: Mixed Doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi
- ⦿ 2014 US Open: Mixed Doubles with Bruno Soares (Brazil)
- ⦿ 2015 Wimbledon: Women’s Doubles with Martina Hingis (Switzerland)
- ⦿ 2015 US Open: Women’s Doubles with Martina Hingis
- ⦿ 2016 Australian Open: Women’s Doubles with Martina Hingis
6:20AM - Sania Mirza after her semifinal win:
“I’m so emotional – I’m not a crier in front of people, but I’m almost there right now,” said Mirza.
“I feel the love here, for the 18 years that I’ve been coming here it feels like home for me because honestly I’ve got family here, I eat at home, I get so much home food and I have all these Indians coming out and supporting me. It’s been quite a journey, and I’m really going to miss coming back here.”
6:10AM - It is one of the biggest days in the recent history of Indian tennis as Sania Mirza plays her final match in a Grand Slam. And the fact that it is a final tells all you need to know about the class of the legend. Will she be able to go on a high by winning the title along with compatriot Rohan Bopanna today? Stay tuned. Live action begins at 6:30AM.
The all-Indian pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna takes on the Brazilian duo of Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos in the mixed doubles final of Australian Open 2023 at the Rod Laver Arena.
Mirza and Bopanna progressed to the final with a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), [10-6] win over third seeds and reigning Wimbledon champions Desirae Krawczyk of the USA and Neal Skupski of Great Britain in the semifinals. In the second semifinal, Stefani and Matos beat local wildcards Olivia Gadecki and Marc Polmans 4-6, 6-4, [11-9] to become the first Brazilian pair ever to reach the final.
Mirza and Bopanna had begun their campaign with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over local wildcards Jaimee Fourlis and John Peers before beating Uruguay’s Ariel Behar and Japan’s Makoto Ninomiya, 6-4, 7-6 (9) in the pre-quarterfinals. The Indian pair was given a walkover by the Latvian-Spanish duo of Jelena Ostapenko and David Vega Hernandez in the quarterfinals.
The 36-year-old Mirza, who is set to retire from the sport after next month’s Dubai Masters, won the mixed doubles crown in Melbourne with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi in 2009. She further went on to win five more Grand Slams, two of which came in mixed doubles.
With Bopanna, she has previously played mixed doubles once at French Open (2011) and twice at Wimbledon (2011, 2021) with the pair’s best result together being a quarterfinal-finish at the All England Club in 2011. They did, however, finish fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.