Iga Swiatek may have lost her singles crown at Roland Garros but she has her eyes firmly set on taking home the French Open doubles title with her partner, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, but the pair will have to navigate past Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, who are eager to add to their 2018 Grand Slam in Paris.
I'm really happy. Katia was doing really well today. She was really helping me. I'm really happy that even the score looks like it was easy, but it wasn't really easy. I hope we saved some power for the final. Barbora Krejcikova
Both Krejcikova & Siniakova are former WTA Doubles World No 1s, who also won the 2018 title at Wimbledon and reached the Australian Open final earlier this year, where they finished as runners-up to Elise Mertens & Aryna Sabalenka.
Krejcikova has the chance to become the first player to sweep the singles and women’s doubles titles at Roland Garros since Mary Pierce pulled off the feat in 2000, although Serena Williams is the last player to scoop up the two events at 2016 Wimbledon.
Swiatek’s incredible run was stopped in the quarter-finals by Maria Sakkari, ending the Pole’s 11 impressive match streak in Paris without losing a single set.
In addition to the Greek, the defending champion also had to deal with a problem in her right leg, an issue that she had sustained in her previous match.
“Obviously I haven’t played my best tennis, that’s for sure,” Swiatek said after her loss. “But I have to congratulate my opponent.
“Sakkari did a great job pushing on my right diagonal, which didn’t work at all today.
“She has chosen the right tactic. I fought as hard as I could, but I couldn’t get the level expressed in the last few days.
“Physically I didn’t feel good enough: the matches weigh more and more and my body suffers.
“Leg problem? Right now I know it’s nothing serious, but on the court she had a totally different perception.”
After some rest and treatment, the leg appeared to be no longer an issue in Swiatek & Mattek-Sands’ defeat of Irina-Camelia Begu & Nadia Podoroska, 6-3 6-4, in the semi-final on Friday.
Mattek-Sands & Swiatek are playing just their third event as a team and are enjoying the experience, having already built up a solid 9-2 win-loss record together.
Swiatek now has a chance to follow up her 2020 Roland Garros singles title with her first Grand Slam women’s doubles title the very next year, with victory on Sunday becoming her first doubles title on the tour.
The 20-year-old Pole has a partner whose history in major finals is sterling, with Mattek-Sands an undefeated 5-0 in Grand Slam women’s doubles finals, including French Open titles alongside Lucie Safarova in 2015 and 2017.
The No 14 seeds took a a pivotal lead in the opening set after a Mattek-Sands volley winner on break point gave them a 4-3 lead and, despite dazzling defence and aggressive returning by Begu & Podoroska in the next game, Swiatek was able to serve out the set and put her team in the driver’s seat.
Romania’s Begu & Podoroska from Argentina were able to fend off multiple break points at 1-1 and 2-2, as the unseeded pair stuck with Mattek-Sands & Swiatek for the opening half of the second set.
At 3-3, they were less successful, though, when Podoroska fell behind 0-40 on her serve and then watched a Swiatek forehand passing shot zip past for the break, which proved to be decisive, as the No 14 seeds charged towards victory.
Swiatek faced a break point on her serve at 5-4, but Begu fired her return long to cede that opportunity, and the American-Polish pair claimed the win two points later, after an hour and 34 minutes of play.
Mattek-Sands will definitely be tuning into the women’s final: “What a story,” the American said about Krejcikova.
“She’s a machine. I just asked her if she set up a sleeping bag or a tent in the locker room, hanging ou there night and day. It’s just nice to see some players that love playing tennis, are out there for the love of the game, doing so well at this stage in their career.”
In Friday’s other semi-final, No 2 seeds Krejcikova & Siniakova dispatched Magda Linette & Bernarda Pera, 6-1 6-2.
From the very first game, Krejcikova & Siniakova exhibited the guile which pulled them to the title three years ago, breaking Pera of the United States and Linette of Poland straight away.
The Czechs faced a break point for the only time in the set at 2-1, but Krejcikova swatted that away with a winning volley, before a Siniakova ace got them back on track to the hold for 3-1.
The No 2 seeds swept through the rest of the set, which ended with a Krejcikova forehand winner.
Another forehand winner by Krejcikova put her team ahead 2-0 in the second as well, but aggressive play by Linette & Pera kicked into gear over the next few games, as they earned their first two service breaks of the day and stayed within touching distance at 3-2.
In the next game, however, the Czechs came out on top in the rallies and regained their break lead for 4-2, kicking off a run of 3 straight games as they swept into another Grand Slam final.
Overall, Krejcikova & Siniakova converted 7 of their 11 break points during their 71-minute win.
“I’m really happy,” said Krejcikova, who came back from a match point down to beat Sakkar in 3 hours, 18 minutes on Thursday in singles. “Katia was doing really well today.
“She was really helping me. I’m really happy that even the score looks like it was easy, but it wasn’t really easy. I hope we saved some power for the final.”
Siniakova expects ‘another tough, tough battle’, against the American-Polish team of Mattek-Sands & Swiatek.
“I think Bethanie and Iga, they played [a] few tournaments together, so they know each other,” she said. “They’re playing really great and aggressive. We know Bethanie a long time. It’s going to be a hard doubles match.”
It will be the first Grand Slam women’s doubles final for the 36-year-old Mattek-Sands since she sustained a gruesome knee injury while playing at Wimbledon in 2017.
“You have to just take it all in,” said Mattek-Sands. “You never know what’s going to happen the next week, the next year.
“I think it’s all about staying in the moment. Sunday will come, we’ll be ready, we’ll bring the energy. Till then we’re going to enjoy the next couple days.”
Swiatek can’t wait to play her first Grand Slam doubles final: “If our game is going to be there, we can do anything. I’m just excited and looking forward to it.”
Whatever happens in the final, Swiatek will leave Paris with positive emotions.
“I’m going to play without any expectations because I think we already did a great job,” she added. “We’re going to, for sure, be pumped. Bethanie is going to give a lot of energy like that.”