No.118 Laura Pigossi defeated Ulrikke Eikeri 6-3 6-4 to clinch a win for Brazil over Norway at the United Cup in Brisbane. Pigossi's victory gave the Brazilians an unassailable 3-1 lead over Norway, which they extended to 4-1 with an added mixed doubles win. Brazil will finish Group E with a 1-1 record.
"I'm really happy that I managed to win this point for Brazil," Pigossi said. "I was a bit nervous at the beginning. It was just an amazing atmosphere so thank you."
With wins for Beatriz Haddad Maia and Felipe Meligeni Rodriguez Alves on Saturday, Brazil entered the second day of the tie with a 2-0 lead. Norway would need a clean sweep of all three matches to reel in the Brazilians.
World No.3 Casper Ruud kept his country’s hopes alive. In the first men’s singles match of the new year, Ruud defeated Brazilian Thiago Monteiro 6-3, 6-2 to narrow the deficit to 1-2 in the tie.
“It was a must-win, so I was maybe feeling the pressure a little bit, but I was able to come out with a good start and starting the new year in tennis down in Australia feels great."
Ruud picked up where he left off in a standout 2022 season, during which he climbed as high as No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and advanced to the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals. Despite a slight hiccup when he fell behind 0-2 in the second set, the Norwegian stormed through the final six games of the match to triumph after 72 minutes.
With the pressure to close out the Brazillian victory, Pigossi put forth a physical effort to best No.388 Eikeri. Pigossi needed 1 hour and 50 minutes to close out the 30-year-old Norwegian, who counts doubles as her primary discipline.
Last spring at Roland Garros, Eikeri became the first Norwegian man or woman to make a Slam final, doing so in mixed doubles. Ruud matched her feat a few days later when he made his first major final in Paris as well.
But Eikeri could not upend Pigossi, who is coming off the best season of her career, having made her first WTA singles final in Bogota last spring. Pigossi's power and pressure kept Eikeri at bay, as the Brazilian generated 13 break points and converted six. She also kept the cleaner sheet, making 27 unforced errors to the Norwegian's 36.
"All our teammates, we've known each other since we were eight years old," Pigossi said, explaining Team Brazil's camaraderie. "So we're really close. First time I played against Bia, she was eight or nine. It's great to get their support and I'm really happy to get this win."
Brazil finished off the tie with another win for the mixed duo of Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos, who defeated Eikeri and Viktor Durasovic 6-4, 7-5 to seal a 4-1 win.
Norway will now prepare to face Italy in the last tie of the group stage.