This Sunday, Paula Josemaria and Ariana Sanchez won at the Caja Magica in Madrid in two sets against Marta Ortega and Gemma Triay 6/3 7/6. With a new Master's degree under their belt, the queens of padel world have risen to the rank of second most successful pair in the history of World Padel Tour.
In 2023, Paula and Ari celebrate their third consecutive year of working together on the courts. In Madrid, the two Spaniards competed in their 40th final. This season, they are undoubtedly dominating the circuit. Back to the beginning of their association:
2019 – 2020: linked destinies
At 22 years, "Magic ari” was far from imagining that she would one day form a powerful pair with Paula. After passing from many years alongside Marta Ortega, the Catalan aspired to take a new step in her career. It was then that she was approached by the best right-wing player, Alejandra Salazar. For two years, Ari Sanchez perfected his game and gained valuable experience. In 2019, the Reus native won 5 titles alongside Alejandra and ranked 2nd in the world rankings behind the duo Marta Marrero and Marta Ortega.
In 2020, the season was shortened due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite this, the Sanchez/Salazar pair won 3 titles out of 11 tournaments and lost in the final of the Master Final against the number 1 of the year, Lucia Sainz and Gemma Triay.
Ari then wants to take a step forward. The Catalan turns to an explosive right-wing player nicknamed “la Dinamita”. After playing alongside Ana Catarina Nogueira in 2020, Marta Marrero and Bea Gonzalez in 2021, Paula Josemaria was hungry for titles and dreamed of the top. For two years, the player from Extremadura gained experience but failed to climb into the top of the padel World.
At the end of the year 2020, the two Spaniards decided to take on a new challenge by joining forces. At that moment, the objective is clear: to become the new queens of World Padel Tour.
2021: the start of a beautiful story
From the first tournament, the tone is set. The story of Paula Josemaria and Ari Sanchez begins in Madrid. During their first tournament together, the two players reached the final and win in two sets against Lucia Sainz and Bea Gonzalez, 6/3 6/4.
A successful first. Paula and Ari then seemed to be flying on a cloud, but their momentum was abruptly interrupted in the final of Alicante by Gemma Triay and Alejandra Salazar, with a clear and flawless defeat 6/1 6/0. This final marks the start of a rivalry that will last two years.
During this first season, Paula and Ari compete in no less than 10 finals and win 5 tournaments. Despite their victory at the Master Final in Madrid against their great rivals Triay and Salazar, Sanchez and Josemaria end 2021 1170 points behind on Gemma and Alejandra.
2022: between success and frustration
“Magic Ari” and “Paula Dinamita” had the ambition to win everything in 2022 and become the undisputed queens of the circuit. Only one obstacle stood in their way to success, Gemma Triay and Alejandra Salazar.
In 2022, Paula Josemaria and Ari Sanchez are making exceptional progress, they gain confidence and rise 18 times in the final in 21 tournaments. The numbers are impressive, but in the final, both players lack confidence. On the 18 final contests, Paula and Ari only won 7. At each decisive stage, they found themselves facing Gemma and Alejandra in the final. Constantly, Gustavo Pratto's players were dominated by their opponents. Quickly, this clash became the “Clasico” of the World Padel Tour. In total, Triay and Salazar won 10 of 14 duels, all of which were played in the final.
The two pairs exchange the number 1 place throughout the season. In November, Paula Josemaria and Ari Sanchez had a comfortable lead over their direct rivals, but everything changed during the Master Final in Barcelona.
“The final of finals”, the one that will determine the queens of the 2022 season. Gemma Triay and Alejandra Salazar arrive in Barcelona full of confidence after 4 victories in the last 4 tournaments. During the first round, however, it was Paula and Ari who dominated the debates and won the first set 6/3. In the second round, the exchanges were balanced, Triay and Salazar quickly returned to equality and won the round 6/4. Gustavo Pratto's players then lead 3/0 in the decisive round, Paula and Ari get closer to the goal. But as in a dramatic turnaround, the match finally swings in favor of Gemma and Alejandra, who win in three sets: 3/6 6/4 6/4. Inconsolable, Paula and Ari bowed and gave up their number 1 place for only 335 points.
So close to the goal. The crown was so close for Paula and Ari, but it eluded them. This defeat in Barcelona tarnished a season that was nevertheless spectacular. Mentally, they are at their lowest, but do not intend to abandon their common goal. Paula and Ari decide to change coaches and are already focusing on 2023.
2023: a historic year
Goodbye Gustavo Pratto, hello Claudio Gilardoni. The latter is also renowned in the world of padel. Claudio has always maintained a special bond with the Gutiérrez family. In addition to training Sanyo, he also collaborated with Cristian. But for the year 2023, he is devoting himself more to his two new nuggets, Ari and Paula.
Josemaria and Sanchez are starting the season off to a flying start. The Abu Dhabi Masters is the setting for the first “Clasico” of the year. This time, the advantage turns in favor of Paula and Ari, who win in two rounds 6 / 3 6 / 3. Sanchez and Josemaria are showing themselves to be more conquerors and have strengthened their confidence during the offseason.
The first “hiccup” of the season occurs during the tour in South America. In Argentina, Claudio Gilardoni's protégés were surprised in the semi-final by Bea Gonzalez and Marta Ortega, then suffered a similar defeat in Chile in the quarter-final against Jensen and Castello. In Paraguay, Ari and Paula meet their eternal rivals in the final, but this time, Gemma and Ale take the upper hand and win 7/6 7/6. One everywhere, ball in the center.
From that moment on, the duo clicked and won everything in their path. During the 4 finals that followed, Sanchez and Josemaria systematically found themselves facing Triay and Salazar, and this time, “Magic Ari” and “Paula Dinamita” are irresistible and win each time. The defeats then sound like a hammer blow for Gemma and Alejandra. Thereafter, Triay and Salazar would no longer win trophies together. After the Madrilenian's injury last May, Gemma decided to join forces with Marta Ortega.
Exemplary complementarity, overflowing determination but above all pure and raw talent, this season, Paula and Ari are irresistible. Despite two notable defeats on the Premier Padel from Rome and Madrid, the Spanish still triumphed over Philippe-Chatrier at Roland-Garros. Nothing seems to stop them. In 2023, Paula and Ari have matured and become more adept at handling crucial moments.
- Josemaria/Sanchez vs Triay/Salazar
In Málaga, they equaled the 23 titles of Gemma Triay and Alejandra Salazar. With this new victory in Madrid, they win their 24th title in 40 finals played on the World Padel Tour and become the second best pair in history at the World Padel Tower, just behind the Alayeto sisters and their 32 titles.
- JJosemaria / Sanchez 2022 vs Josemaria / Sanchez 2023
The season is still long, but Paula and Ari have never been closer to their goal. Once again today, they proved that they were the indisputable queens of padel World. They are only 8 titles away from the Gemelas Atomikas record, and there are still 9 tournaments to play on the World Padel Tour. Who knows, during the Master Final in Barcelona, they could perhaps become the best pair than the World Padel Tour ever known.
A fan of oval football, round ball but also racket sports, he was stung by the padel during his adolescence in Galicia. As comfortable in front of the camera as behind a microphone, Vince will be able to bring his vision and expertise as a fan of the little yellow ball.