ROLAND GARROS, France - No.7 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Rohan Bopanna have won their first Slam title, saving two championship points to fend off the greater experience of the unseeded duo of Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Robert Farah 2-6, 6-2, 12-10. It marks the first time a Canadian woman has taken a Slam trophy.
The match was topsy-turvy contest that ended in a thrilling match tiebreak - but it looked like one-way traffic at first. The German was the only Slam champion on court to start with, having taken the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon 2009 (with Mark Knowles) and Roland Garros 2014 (with Jean-Julien Rojer). Her Colombian partner had been runner-up once, with Groenefeld at last year's US Open; meanwhile, their opponents had just one Slam final between them, Bopanna's run to the 2010 US Open men's doubles final with Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.
The 32-year-old's experience showed in the first set, with a 100% record on her own delivery. Her 30-year-old partner wasn't far behind, dropping just two points on his serve; the pair, who have played with each other since the 2016 Australian Open, were moving in sync easily and demonstrating superb court awareness. Time and again, accurately struck groundstrokes would set the net player up for a sharp putaway or graceful cross.
By contrast, the Canadian-Indian partnership was struggling: 37-year-old Bopanna had fended off two break points in the fifth game, but his 25-year-old partner, the youngest player on court, dropped both her service games in the first set.
When the pattern continued in the second set with Dabrowski failing to hold serve for a third time to go down a set and a break, it seemed as though Groenefeld's third Slam title - and her partner's first - would be a formality. But out of nowhere, Dabrowski and Bopanna found the kind of form that had brought them to the final in the first place, attacking Groenefeld's previously impregnable serve with searing returns down the line - breaking back to begin a winning run of 10 from 11 points.
Despite her service woes, Dabrowski was beginning to find her range on both groundstrokes and volleys - and, with her seeded opponents beginning to throw in mistakes on return, she held for the first time to take her team to within a game of levelling up. It was the Canadian who took them into a match tiebreak in style, firing a ferocious return off the Groenefeld serve to break the German for the second time in a row.
Momentum swung back and forth in a match tiebreak that was impossible to call ntil the every end: Dabrowski and Bopanna, volleying smartly, scored the first mini-break, but a loose volley and double fault from the Indian put them behind 3-5. Groenefeld and Farah were unable to maintain this lead, and trailing 5-6, the Colombian halted play due to clay in his eye that necessitated a trainer to administer eyedrops to him.
Dabrowski and Bopanna were flatter on resumption, losing four of the next five points to stare down the barrel of two championship points - but were saved when Farah just missed down the line and Groenefeld was unable to keep a volley in court. The unseeded pair seized their opportunity - and on their own second championship point, captured the Marcel Bernard Cup when Groenefeld delivered an untimely double fault.
More to come...