Tennis player Beatriz Haddad Maia, 26, could not resist former world number 1 Simona Halep and was defeated in the final of the WTA 1000 in Toronto, Canada.
The Brazilian was surpassed by the Romanian (currently 15th in the ranking) by 2 sets to 1, with partial 6/3, 2/6 and 6/3, in a decision of 2 hours and 16 minutes with a good presence of Brazilian fans this Sunday ( 14).
Bia even opened 3-0 in the first set, but suffered the comeback. In the second, he imposed his game to tie the match. In the end, he saw Halep break his serve twice and be champion in the third half.
After the game, the Brazilian thanked her team and coach, Rafael Paciaroni. “There’s a lot of people behind it, especially Rafa, who built this mentality in me. I’m becoming more competitive every week, and I think we’re working in the right direction. The results are showing because we’re focused on this process.”
It was a sad ending to the spectacular campaign built by Bia, in which she overthrew the current number 1 in the world, the Olympic champion and another former leader of the ranking.
Even with the defeat, however, the paulista achieved several personal marks and becomes the first Brazilian in the top 20 of women’s tennis in the WTA era. Currently ranked 24th, she is expected to rank 16th in the next official list update.
“Rankings and results only reflect how hard my team and I worked. I had set a goal of being top 20 by the end of the US Open [setembro] and I’m glad I did. Goals serve as motivation to know where we want to go”, Bia had said before the final, when asked about her brilliant season.
This was the first time that a Brazilian reached the decision of a 1,000 tournament, the most important category on the circuit below the Grand Slams.
“We have Maria Esther Bueno and Guga Kuerten. I don’t compare myself to them, both are phenomenal. But it’s important and it’s a pleasure for me, not only as a Brazilian, but as a South American woman. I’m very proud of myself and my team”, he said after the semifinal.
On the way to the decision, Bia passed Polish Iga Swiatek, number 1 in the world and champion of Roland Garros, with a 2-set victory. It was the first time that a Brazilian defeated a leader of the ranking.
In the quarterfinals, another test of iron: the opponent was the Swiss Belinda Bencic (12th in the world), current Olympic champion. Another 2-1 win.
In the next phase, the São Paulo native surpassed the Czech Karolina Pliskova, former number 1 in the ranking (currently 14th). In the second partial, Bia recovered from a 5-2 to turn the set and win in the tie break, 2-0.
The triumph earned tributes and fans from sports personalities, such as Pelé. “How good it is to see Brazilians conquering more and more in the sport. You are writing a beautiful story”, published the King on social networks.
In the final, Halep’s experience weighed heavily. At the age of 30, the Romanian disputed her 18th WTA 1,000 decision in her career, a record she now boasts alongside American Serena Williams.
Bia and Halep had already faced each other three times. The history of the confrontation now has three victories for the Romanian and one for the Brazilian.
If today Bia celebrates her entry into the top 20, this trajectory was not without obstacles and disappointments.
In 2017 and 2018, she was in the 58th position of the ranking, until then her best mark. The following year, however, the tennis player was caught in a drug test and punished for ten months.
The penalty would be higher, but it was reduced because his defense was able to prove that the anabolic substances found in the exam were ingested from contaminated food supplements. She was banned all this period from practicing the sport.
The athlete’s return to the courts was scheduled for May 2020, but the circuit paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic and only returned in August.
With that, Bia dropped to 1,342nd position in the ranking, which forced her to play in several small tournaments to grow back in the rankings.
In 2021, it started at 359th position. And in October, he celebrated what was the biggest win of his career so far. At the WTA 1000 in Indian Wells (United States), she won the then number 3 in the world, the same Pliskova she defeated in Toronto.
This year, the paulistana has been standing out since the first semester, when she was runner-up in the Australian Open doubles tournament and champion of the WTA 500 in Sydney, alongside Kazakh Anna Danilina, in January.
In May, he won his first WTA 125, in Saint-Malo (France), went to the final in Paris in this same class and was among the top 40 in the singles ranking for the first time.
The following month, she won the WTA 250 in Nottingham, England, in a campaign that included a victory over Greek Maria Sakkari, then number 5 in the world, and also won the doubles title, alongside Chinese Shuai Zhang.
The trophy marked the first women’s title by a Brazilian on grass courts in 54 years, since Maria Esther Bueno won in 1968.
The following week, Bia won the Birmingham WTA 250, again on grass, in a walk that went on to win over Halep in the semifinals.
The only downturn of the season was the Wimbledon debut. Driven by the achievements on other fields in England, the Brazilian’s expectations fell to the ground in her debut, in defeat to Slovenian Kaja Juvan (62nd).
The next Grand Slam, in which Bia could try to win her first trophy at the highest level of tennis, will be the US Open in New York starting August 29. Now among the 20 best tennis players on the planet.