Stefani: ‘I’m looser and more confident on court’

Stefani: ‘I’m looser and more confident on court’
Stefani: ‘I’m looser and more confident on court’

Stefani is in New York, training at the US Open facilities

Photo: Archive

Mr. Srgio Cruz

Getting closer and closer to resuming the competition routine after a year, Luísa Stefani had the opportunity to return to the US Open and also to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the same stage where she suffered a serious ligament injury in her right knee in last year’s semifinals. . She is training in New York and using the tournament facilities to re-acclimate herself to the high level of the circuit.

Stefani operated on his knee in September 2021 and, after six months of physiotherapy, resumed training on the court in March. your return is originally planned for the Tokyo WTA 500, from September 19, alongside the Japanese Ena Shibahara. But there is a possibility that the return will be brought forward by a week. She is also signed up to play in Chennai, India alongside Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski. But their presence playing together depends on the canadian campaign at the US Open alongside Mexican Giuliana Olmos.

The 25-year-old player spoke to tennis Brazil on the emotion of returning to the US Open: “Obviously, coming out of the tunnel there brought some emotions back and it was really good to be there again and have good feelings to break that barrier”, and about the final stretch of preparation for his return to circuit. “More and more I’m trusting more and getting looser on the court. The important thing is to be patient, listen to the body, and manage the pain and swelling so it doesn’t go too far.”

Former world number 9 among doubles specialists, Stefani is currently ranked 97th and will drop out of the rankings shortly after the US Open. According to the WTA regulations, having been out of action for a year, she will be entitled to use the so-called “protected ranking” to enter up to 12 doubles tournaments, with a maximum of two Grand Slams and two WTA 1000 in a year. The tennis player will also be able to play in some smaller tournaments, including the singles bracket.

Stefani also talked about the great moment experienced by Brazilian women’s tennis, with Beatriz Haddad Maia in the position of number 15 in the world and Laura Pigossi reaching the top 100. “I’m very proud of them. I know how much they work and live on it. So it’s really cool see them conquering space and improving. They inspire me a lot and motivate me a lot”.

The Olympic medalist had been training at Rede Tênis Brasil, in São Paulo, alongside coach Leo Azevedo, and lived with players of the new generation such as Ana Candiotto, Olivia Carneiro and Victoria Barros: “I’ve talked a little with them, listened to what they think and answered questions. I also managed to watch some tournaments in Brazil. I hope I contributed. It’s been really cool to spend more time in Brazil with the youngest ones and you can see how excited they are”.

Check out the interview with Luísa Stefani.

How was this return to the US Open and Armstrong after a year? I imagine you must have been thrilled. Is there a feeling of a page turned?
It was special and exciting in a way. But I think I came in with another perspective. It was different, I just can’t explain how. Last year, I came in very focused on the game and didn’t even look at the court much. So this time, I was able to appreciate the court more and notice the stadium. It’s a court like any other. But obviously coming out of the tunnel there brought some emotions back and it was really nice to be there again and have good feelings to break that barrier. even hard to explain

And the feeling should be similar when you play there in Tokyo too. During this time in NY, have you been able to train with Ena, even though she is in the tournament?
I still haven’t got Ena here at the US Open, because she played two games yesterday. It was super rushed. We already talked a little bit, but in no way do I want to interfere with her preparation. In Grand Slam there is always a lot of rush, with a lot of people, especially in the first days, but if we manage to fit in a training here, we will definitely go. If not, we train there in Japan before playing.

And was there anything you needed to change in training and in your game because of your knee? Also, mentally, can you play and execute the moves without thinking about the knee?
I didn’t have to change many things in training and in the game, thinking about the technical part. I think I managed to perfect some things and make some adjustments that maybe I didn’t have as much time when I was in the madness of the circuit. I still sometimes think about the knee. Even if it is involuntary, the body continues to protect a lot. But this is natural. I’m getting more and more confident and getting looser on the court. Some days are easier and some days are harder.

Everyone who’s been injured tells me that, it’s part of the process. The important thing is to be patient, listen to the body, and manage the pain and swelling so that it doesn’t go too far because of the excitement of being back. Mentally there’s more of this battle, managing how much to do and how much not to do, but that’s no different from when I played. I think everyone on the circuit has this conflict about how much you can and can’t do and the importance of rest.

You always said you’d like to try playing singles. Is it quieter at this point, since there is no ranking difference? You can still use the duo’s protected ranking to enter the big events when you can.
Yea! I’m really excited to play singles again. I think it helps not to have so much calendar pressure. And in doubles, my protected ranking will make it easier, but I’ll have to be more selective and careful when choosing tournaments. In the beginning I won’t be ranked in singles or doubles, only the protégé to enter some tournaments, but it will be possible to balance singles and doubles. That is one of my goals for the next year.

How motivating are the recent results of Bia and also Laura? Can you always keep pulling each other?
About the results of Bia and Lau, who is making it to the top 100, I am very proud of them. I know how much they, their families and their teams work and make a living from it. So it’s really cool to see them conquering space and improving. They inspire me a lot and motivate me a lot.

During the time you were in Brazil and training in São Paulo, how much were you able to keep up with the younger girls like Ana, Olivia and Victoria, and what did you manage to pass on from your experience to them?
And for the younger girls, I hope I contributed. I’ve been talking to them a bit, listening to what they think and answering their questions. I managed to watch some tournaments in Brazil. In training and in the day-to-day, it is also possible to spend a lot for them to take advantage of some things that I do well or differently from what they are used to. It’s been really cool to spend more time in Brazil with the younger ones and you can see how excited they are with the girls’ results and I include myself a little in that too. It’s great to share stories and knowledge and see these kids motivated, inspired and close to us too.


The article is in Portuguese

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