PARIS, France - No.14 seeds Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk and unseeded Nicole Melichar and Iga Swiatek set up an expected French Open doubles semifinal with a pair of straight-set victories in Paris on Wednesday.
First up, Guarachi and Krawczyk scored their second victory over a higher-seeded team at this tournament with a 6-0, 6-4 win over No.7 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, before Melichar and Swiatek followed with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Jessica Pegula and Asia Muhammad.
In a dominant performance that lasted just 62 minutes, the No.14 seeds won the first eight games played on Court Suzanne-Lenglen before losing three straight, but held off any chance of a comeback by the Japanese team by capturing the last three games.
For Guarachi individually, the victory reversed the result of February's final in St. Petersburg, where she and partner Kaitlyn Christian won the opening set but were defeated in a match tiebreak in the Premier-level final.
"I think we just played within ourselves. We didn't let the moment get too big, think about, 'Oh, we're in the quarterfinals.' We just went out there and played our tennis and knew how they played," Guarachi said after the match.
"[We] just knew that we had to be aggressive and play our tennis. We had to go on our terms.
"I knew that I had played them before in St. Petersburg and we won the first set, and they came back and won the second set and then won the tiebreaker. I knew they were going to fight back. Just had to play within ourselves and just keep playing the way we played in the first set."
After winning the Istanbul Cup in Turkey last month for their second WTA title together, Guarachi and Krawczyk were beaten in the first round of both Rome and Strasbourg before coming to Paris to put together a best-ever Grand Slam result. Earlier in the tournament, the two teamed up to snap the 14-match winning streak of No.1 seeds Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-wei in the third round.
Guarachi, a former student-athlete at the University of Alabama, and Krawczyk, who played college tennis at Arizona State, are also the latest former collegians to have Grand Slam success this summer.
Former UCLA Bruin Jennifer Brady reached the singles semifinals of the US Open, while former University of North Carolina Tar Heel Hayley Carter partnered Brazil's Luisa Stefani to reach the doubles quarterfinals.
"I honestly didn't even know that I would pursue doubles like this. After I graduated college, I really wanted to play singles and see how far I could go," Guarachi, who tore her ACL earlier in her career, added. "Especially with the knee injury, I felt like I don't know if I can come back, can I do this? I'm just going to try and see.
"I had so much fun in doubles. It was just so much fun for me, and I had a lot of success. I think it just started rolling from there.
"The biggest thing for me was when I qualified for Wimbledon two years ago, and we lost first round against [Katerina] Siniakova and [Barbora] Krejcikova, and they ended up winning Wimbledon that year, and we lost in three sets.
"For me, that was a moment in my career where I thought, wow, I'm right there with the girls that can win the Slams. So if I just keep working and building and creating opportunities for myself, I think I can get there."
For Melichar and Swiatek, a first-time pairing is bearing fruit. Saving a staggering 11 of 12 break points against them in the second quarterfinal, the two never again trailed after losing the first game of each set.
Swiatek is the first player to reach the singles and doubles semifinals in Paris since Lucie Safarova did so in 2015. The Czech finished as the singles runner-up to Serena Williams that year and won the doubles title with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. No woman since France's Mary Pierce in 2000 has won both the singles and doubles titles at the French Open in the same year.
"It's amazing for me. I never would have thought that I'm gonna be in semifinal in singles and doubles, so it's kind of crazy, because I had to play a match every day," the Pole said Wednesday.
"It's good for me, because I'm still in the rhythm. Also, doubles, really, I think it's helping my performance in singles also because I'm learning new stuff and I've never had a chance to play doubles with such experienced player. It's amazing for me, and I'm really happy."
Swiatek and Melichar were a last-minute pairing in the draw, coming together when the American's usual partner, Xu Yifan of China, was unable to secure a visa in time.
Melichar and Xu defeated Swiatek and Viktoria Kuzmova in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open in New York, and the two-time Grand Slam doubles finalist revealed she first notice of Swiatek's doubles prowess there.
"Her partner didn't get visa to Europe, so she just texted my team. Basically, she approached me, which was amazing for me, because I never would have thought that a player like that would text me," Swiatek added.
"I'm playing a lot of volleys, and I'm always being aggressive because we are like power players, me and Nicole, so we are always going forward. Also, I get a chance to practice approaches, so it's pretty nice.
"But also I'm just getting more experience in tactics in doubles, and I have never had a chance. So I'm just developing as a player, I guess. I like that I get to keep my routines every day the same, so I don't mind that I don't have days off."
While the story of the top half are two teams making a breakthrough, two Grand Slam-winning pairs will face off on the bottom half.
In the other semifinal, No.2 seeds and 2019 winners Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic will face No.4 seeds and 2018 champions Krejcikova and Siniakova.