Defending champions Timea Babos & Kristina Mladenovic fought past Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova in 3 thrilling sets into the French Open women’s doubles final, where they will meet Alexa Guarachi & Desirae Krawczyk, who outlasted Nicole Melichar & Iga Swiatek, also in 3 gruelling sets on Friday in Paris.
I honestly didn’t believe it was real. It was such a back and forth match, we had to fight so hard. I was so in the moment at match point that I didn’t think about the score. It’s a dream come true, I’m so honoured and so excited to reach a Slam final. It’s an amazing opportunity, I feel very lucky. I’m going to go all I can in the final and do it for the people of Chile especially. Alexa Guarachi
The heavyweight clash saw the No 2 seeds take the honours in a high-quality semi-final thriller, edging the No 4 seeds 6-2 4-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 29 minutes.
“I think we have very complementary games. We bring together our qualities as singles players, but also doubles players,” reflected home charge Mladenovic, highlighting their cohesion.
“There is inevitably also this connection, this chemistry that we have between us off the court, which is also our strength on the court compared to all the management of the matches.
“We know each other by heart, really. We’re best friends in everyday life. It helps enormously for understanding each other.
“Apart from that, what predominates is our strength, our game. We have big strengths in singles and in doubles. When you can put them in place, it gives those results. It’s true that it’s great.”
Babos & Mladenovic produced their best form to post their 3rd win over the 2018 champions and remain unbeaten on the major stage in 2020.
The Franco-Hungarian pair saved 2 break points off the bat on Babos’s serve, but then took firm control, the first of several superb crosses giving them an opening in the 4th game, eventually conceded by a Siniakova double-fault.
Babos coughed some uncharacteristically loose groundstroke errors to lose the break advantage, but made up for it with brilliant shot-making at key moments to resume her team’s stranglehold on the opening set.
A searing off forehand return winner captured the Krejcikova serve for 4-2, and another well-timed cross saved break point on the Mladenovic delivery en route to building a 5-2 lead, before a series of Czech errors ended the set with Siniakova conceding her delivery again.
The No 4 seeds lost the first 8 points of the second in a flurry of errors, but Mladenovic struggled on serve as a 4th and 5th double-fault paved the way for Krjcikova & Siniakova to regain a foothold in the match.
They broke through in the 7th game and held through the rest of the set, sealing the second act as Mladenovic sent another forehand into the net.
The decider saw the teams going toe-to-toe from every corner of the court and developed into a fine battle of doubles skills, with all 4making phenomenal gets, displaying lightning-sharp reflexes alongside delicate finesse.
Babos survived 5 deuces, saving 2 break points, in a marathon opening game, and Mladenovic needed to come through 3 in the 3rd game and although they came through the tussles, Krejcikova & Siniakova maintained the pressure, and got their reward as Krejcikova essayed a delectable cross to break Babos for 3-2.
Buoyed by support from Mladenovic’s home crowd, the pair broke back immediately when Krejcikova sent a lob long and as the set headed to the finish, neither team gave any ground.
Krejcikova faced a match point down 4-5, and Mladenovic a break point in the subsequent game, but both those doors were slammed firmly shut by clutch service winners.
Fittingly, the longest game of the match was the final one, with Siniakova taking her turn to serve to stay alive, and the Czech team held double game point to level at 6-6, but Babos & Mladenovic threw all they had at closing the win out then and there.
Krejcikova & Siniakova valiantly fended off a further 4 match points in the game, but when Siniakova’s 4th double-fault brought up a 6th, Babos & Mladenovic made no mistake, ending it with a delicate angled drop-volley from the Frenchwoman sealing an epic victory.
Guarachi & Krawczyk outlast Melichar & Swiatek
Chile’s Alexa Guarachi & Desirae Krawcyzk of the United States, seeded 14, gritted their way past American Nicole Melichar & Iga Swiatek of Poland, 7-6(5) 1-6 6-4 on Friday, to reach their first-ever Grand Slam final on the clay courts of Paris.
Claiming both of their sets from behind, they stormed back from a 5-2, double-break deficit in the opening frame, and were down a break 3 times in the decider, but a break in the last game of the match got them through.
The Chilean-American pair won their 2nd WTA title together in Istanbul a month prior to Roland Garros, and are cementing their success in Paris, stunning top seeds Barbora Strycova & Hsieh Su-wei in the round of 16, and the No 7 seeds Shuko Aoyama & Ena Shibahara in the quarters before eliminating Melichar & Swiatek after 2-and-a-half hours of topsy-turvy play.
The semi-final loss prevented Swiatek from advancing to both finals in Paris this weekend.
The teenager will play Sofia Kenin in the singles final on Saturday, and was hoping to become the first woman to contest both the singles and women’s doubles finals at Roland Garros in the same year since Sara Errani in 2012.
The opening stages of the match were controlled by Melichar & Swiatek, playing for the first time together, who held at least one break point in their opponents’ first 5 service games.
Guarachi & Krawcyzk did well to stay level with the unseeded pair through to 2-all, but Melichar commanded with aggressive play at net to pull ahead with the first break and lead 3-2.
A second break and another protracted tussle saw Swiatek’s groundstrokes setting up pristine volleys by Melichar that took them to 5-2.
Guarachi & Krawczyk started to pull themselves back into contention, saving a set point at 5-3 and 5-4 to clawed proceedings back to a single-break deficit
Serving for the set for a second time, Swiatek missed their third set point with a wide backhand, and after deep returning, the No 14 seeds broke again to reach parity at 5-5.
An easy hold by Guarachi suddenly gave the seeded duo a 4th straight game, their first lead of the day, and after Melichar led 40-0, a double-fault led to a string of points went to the Chilean-American team, who earned their first set point.
Melichar pulled them through the game to force the tiebreak in which a series of netted backhands from Swiatek left them 0-4 down, and although the unseeded pair edged to 4-3, helped along by some superb serving from Melichar, the first set went to Guarachi & Krawcyzk after a gruelling 74 minutes.
In the second, Melichar & Swiatek took a big lead again, and did not relinquish it, grabbing a service break for 3-1 and extending this to 4-1 after Swiatek gritted her way through a tough game to consolidate.
After a 2nd break for 5-1, Melichar romped to triple set point, and at her second chance, she fired a forehand winner down the line, levelling the match after a swift second set.
In the decider the teams traded breaks 6 times to 4-4, with big hitting from both Melichar & Swiatek putting them up a break 3 times, only to see the steely play by Guarachi & Krawcyzk snatching the lead away.
Krawczyk quelled the run of service breaks after staving off 4 deuces on her serve in another lengthy game and eventually, the Chilean punched a sublime volley to convert their 5th game point for 5-4..
With Swiatek serving to stay in the match, the No 14 seeds pounced, as they each slammed a powerful winner to jump up 0-30.
A miscue by Swiatek found the net, and Guarachi & Krawcyzk were at triple match point but more magical Melichar volleying saved two, only for the third to send them into the final as Swiatek struck her forehand long.
“I honestly didn’t believe it was real,” said Guarachi, who could become Chile’s first women’s doubles Grand Slam champion.
“It was such a back and forth match, we had to fight so hard. I was so in the moment at match point that I didn’t think about the score. It’s a dream come true, I’m so honoured and so excited to reach a Slam final.
“It’s an amazing opportunity, I feel very lucky. I’m going to go all I can in the final and do it for the people of Chile especially.”