Australian Open, mixed doubles final blog: Brazilians win title, Sania Mirza bows out of big stage
Recap of the mixed doubles final.
09.00 am: And thus ends a memorable Grand Slam career for Sania Mirza. Not with the winners trophy, but a second-placed finish and a fair few reminders that her forehand is still deadly and can continue being so if she wished. The retirement will happen within a few weeks in Dubai but for all intents and purposes, this is the big farewell. That it happened at the Rod Laver Arena after a final, in front of her son as she reminded at the end, is in itself special. Australian Open will always hold a special place in her career. A match against Serena, being seeded in the singles main draw, her first Major final (mixed doubles 2008), her first Major win (mixed doubles 2009)... and her final Major match (mixed doubles 2023). Thanks for the memories, Sania. It was a privilege.
The best of Sania Mirza at US Open:
Tributes pour in for Sania Mirza (reminder that she will continue playing on till Dubai but that’s that for the Grand Slams):
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 2-6 Stefani-Matos: Time for trophy presentation.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 2-6 Stefani-Matos: Missed chance by Bopanna at the net, but all credit to Stefani who fittingly closes the match out. A famous Brazilian win.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 2-5* Stefani-Matos: Mirza had the angle there. She found the gap but missed the line. Match point down. Saved by a Bopanna overhead. Another match point still at 40-40.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 2-5* Stefani-Matos: Matos with a superb overhead. It’s 30-30 and they are two points away.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 2-5* Stefani-Matos: Mirza to serve under huge pressure, just to stay alive in this match a little longer.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 2-5* Stefani-Matos: Matos holds serve, as Bopanna nets a forehand.
STAT: Reminder that this will be a first all-Brazilian crown in a Grand Slam doubles tournament if they triumph.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 2-4* Stefani-Matos: Bopanna, it seemed, could have a rare comfortable service hold (think there was one in the first set. Two aces. But a superb 16 shot rally with some stunning defence by the Brazilians. And another fantastic defensive point won following that. Pressure on Bopanna again, but he does hold eventually.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 1-4* Stefani-Matos: Stefani holds serve, as Mirza sends her lob long. Another missed opportunity for the Indians.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 1-3* Stefani-Matos: And Bopanna with a service return winner to take this game to a deciding point.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 1-3* Stefani-Matos: A window for the Indians at 15-30 but Bopanna sends a second serve wide. Good second serve from Stefani too. Deja vu.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 1-3* Stefani-Matos: All day, Sania has served alright. All day, her forehand has been firing. And with the rally of the match where both of those were true, Bopanna misses a couple of chances to kill the point at the net and sends a backhand long. Sums it all up.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 1-2 Stefani-Matos: A chance to take the game to the deciding point, but a super defensive block by Stefani followed by a Bopanna error and it is game for the Brazilians. Story of the match so far in a few seconds.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 1-1 Stefani-Matos: An unconvincing service hold but a service hold it is for Bopanna.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7), 0-1 Stefani-Matos: And Stefani holds to start the second set. Somebody stop her! She is on a roll.
Rohan Bopanna’s serve was supposed to be a strong point for India in this match. But was anything but in the opening set. Luisa Stefani, meanwhile, was so good under pressure at the net and then landed some huge second serves too. Big difference in Set 1.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-7 (2-7) Stefani-Matos: Complete contrast from Bopanna at the other end. And Mirza misses two overhead smashes at the net. And the first set goes to the Brazilians. That is just so disappointing from the Indians’ point of view. Bopanna still has the chance to pick his game up and turn this around, but if the Indians lose today, his serving in the first set will be a factor for sure.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-6 (2-5*) Stefani-Matos: How impressive has Stefani been under pressure. Big moments, she has delivered. Two service holds there. Another terrific second serve.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-6 (2-3*) Stefani-Matos: Hopefully Bopanna can take some heart from that. A great defensive point by him and the Indians win the rally of the match so far. Mirza holds both her points.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-6 Stefani-Matos: Yikes, Bopanna. He has had a nightmare first set to be honest. Started off with a service break and now starts the tiebreak with a double fault. It’s a 0-3 start for the Indians
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-6 Stefani-Matos: Ohhh, missed chance for Mirza. What a clutch second serve once again from Stefani! Way to step up. Tiebreak time.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-5 Stefani-Matos: Mirza with a good return, Bopanna finishes at the net. One more point for the Indians to take it to a deciding tiebreak. And pressure from Bopanna at the net. Body attack... and set point for the Indians at 40-40!
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-5 Stefani-Matos: If the Indians do end up dropping this set, the Bopanna service games that were broken will haunt them. But they have some early pressure on Stefani’s serve... oh wow, second serve ace against Bopanna. Two game points.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-5 Stefani-Matos: Stefani starts off a pressure game with an ace. Her second if I am not wrong but she also hasn’t held serve yet.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 6-5 Stefani-Matos: Stefani hasn’t missed much at the net but she sends the serve return long and it is a massive hold for Sania.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 5-5 Stefani-Matos: Sania has held serve well so far and is up 40-15 here. A fine forehand in that game too. But soon enough, it is 40-40. And it is a HUGE deciding point.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 5-5 Stefani-Matos: Stefani has been stunning at the net pretty much all set. Game point for Brazil thanks to her, and the game, thanks to her.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 5-4 Stefani-Matos: There is frustration for Matos but two good first serves in under pressure and it is 30-30. Something Bopanna couldn’t manage last game.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 5-4 Stefani-Matos: Time to regroup from a big chance missed. Matos to serve, and the Indians have a 0-30 chance.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 5-4 Stefani-Matos: That is another disappointing service game from Bopanna, not just on serve but also on the rally game. The Brazilians, if I am not wrong, are starting to target him more at the moment.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna *5-3 Stefani-Matos: The pressure is on from Brazil. Bopanna down 15-40 on serve.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna *5-3 Stefani-Matos: Time for Bopanna to serve for the set, the ideal situation for the Indians. But can he hold on?
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna *5-3 Stefani-Matos: That’s a great return to the body by Mirza, pouncing on the second serve from Stefani and the Indians have the break of serve.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 4-3 Stefani-Matos: That’s a stunning backhand winner from Bopanna down the line! Two break points.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 4-3 Stefani-Matos: The returns are landing in from the Indians... a 15-30 window here.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 4-3 Stefani-Matos: A stunning display of Mirza’s forehand brilliance in that game. She holds serve at 15. Indians stay ahead, on serve. Time to apply the pressure again on the Brazilians’ serve.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 3-3 Stefani-Matos: A terrific rally in that game from the Indians set up by three superb forehands from Mirza (uff, that will be missed). There is a 30-30 situation, a 40-40 situation. But Matos holds serve as Bopanna misses at the net on the deciding point.
(Reminder: No advantage-deuce in mixed doubles these days, the point at 40-40 decides the game)
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 3-2 Stefani-Matos: And a good service game it is. Starts off with an ace, a super volley by Mirza at the net and soon after, a love hold.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 2-2 Stefani-Matos: A good service game for Bopanna will go a long way here.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 2-2 Stefani-Matos: Stefani’s serve. The Indians need to apply pressure here. Bopanna misses a volley winner at the start that he’d normally put away. But a window opens at 15-30. Super ace then from the Brazilian, ace to Bopanna. 30-30. A lucky net cord for the Indians via Mirza and break point. Good pressure at the net from Mirza-Bopanna and we are back on serve.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 1-2* Stefani-Matos: Mirza’s serve is usually under pressure in the mixed doubles setting, but in the Wimbledon semifinal last year one remembers how good she was for large parts of the match. She starts off well here, bit of pressure at 30-30 but Bopanna comes good at the net. Stefani meanwhile is off to a blinder at the net too, playing so well. The Indians are on the board.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 0-2* Stefani-Matos: Bopanna is yet to find his radar here. There were chances there on Matos’ serve. Even a booming Sania forehand that could have helped getting a break point, but the finishing touch from Bopanna right now is missing.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna 0-1* Stefani-Matos: Break of serve to start off. Not the ideal start for Indians. Some good rallies already there, with Mirza doing well at the net but Bopanna didn’t have the best of first serves in and the Brazilians break after the deciding point at 40-40.
Mixed doubles final, Mirza-Bopanna vs Stefani-Matos: Bopanna to serve and we are underway.
Here’s a look at the draw from Q/F onwards:
06.35 am: Hello all, welcome to our live coverage of Australian Open 2023 and Sania Mirza’s last dance at a Grand Slam.
Mixed doubles final time at Rod Laver Arena. It is time for India vs Brazil, Sania Mirza-Rohan Bopanna versus Luisa Stefani-Rafael Matos. It’s been quite the journey for the Indian stalwart. And it is brilliant for the romantics in all of us that her final match at a Grand Slam is a final at Australia Open, the Major where she made her singles breakthrough and the Major where she won her first title back in 2009 with Mahesh Bhupathi.
“The greatest memory that I will carry with me for a life time is that of the pride and happiness that I saw on the faces of my fellow countrymen and supporters each time I achieved victory and reached milestones in my long career,” she wrote recently.
And today, there is a chance for one more. One final celebration perhaps, but that is true irrespective of the result. We can’t wait to get started.
Screenshots in the blog: Sony LIV / Australian Open match centre