PARIS, France -- The breakthrough major for Chile’s Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawcyzk of the United States will advance all the way to the very last day of the Roland Garros women’s doubles event, as the No.14 seeds gritted past Nicole Melichar of the United States and 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.
The victors had to claim both of their sets from behind, as they stormed back from a 5-2, double-break deficit in the opening frame, and were down a break three separate times in the decider. In the end, it was a break in the last game of the match which propelled the fourteenth seeds into the final.
Neither Guarachi nor Krawczyk had ever advanced past the round of 16 in a Grand Slam women’s doubles event prior to this fortnight, but the Chilean-American squad had won their second WTA title as a team at the clay-court event in Istanbul a month prior to Roland Garros, confirming their bona fides on the surface this year.
Their stellar run in Paris has only cemented their success this season. This week, Guarachi and Krawcyzk stunned No.1 seeds Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-wei in the round of 16, and followed up with a win over No.7 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara in the quarters before eliminating Melichar and Swiatek after two-and-a-half hours of topsy-turvy play.
The semifinal loss prevented Swiatek from advancing to both finals in Paris this weekend. Swiatek, who will play Sofia Kenin in the singles final, was a win away from becoming 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.
Guarachi and Krawczyk’s final test will be against the reigning titleholders Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in the championship match. No.2-seeded Babos and Mladenovic also had a stern test in the semifinals before outlasting 2018 titlists and No.4 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in three sets.
The opening stages of the match were controlled by Melichar and Swiatek, who had at least one break point in their opponents’ first five service games. Guarachi and Krawcyzk did well to stay level with the unseeded pairing through 2-2, but Melichar commanded with aggressive play at net to pull ahead with the first break and lead 3-2.
A second break was acquired after a backhand crosscourt winner by Swiatek allowed her squad to claim another protracted tussle, as extended length of games became the standard. But with the sterling groundstrokes of Swiatek setting up the pristine volleys of Melichar, they came out on top frequently through 5-2, despite this being the first event they have played together.
However, the pinpoint hitting by Guarachi and Krawczyk started to pull them back into the match, saving a set point each at 5-3 and 5-4 as they clawed back to a single-break deficit. With her team 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 fourth straight game and their first lead of the day at 6-5. In the next game, Melichar led 40-0, but a double fault led to a string of points by the Chilean-American team, en route to a first set point for Guarachi and Krawczyk. Aggressive play by Melichar, though, pulled them through the game, queuing up a decisive tiebreak.
In the breaker, Guarachi and Krawcyzk drew a series of netted backhands from Swiatek en route to a 4-0 lead, although the unseeded pair edged to 4-3, helped along by some superb serving from Melichar. Krawczyk, though, won her two service points with ease to grab three more set points at 6-3, and on the third, the set was completed after a grueling 74 minutes with a winning Krawczyk volley.
¡ALEXA GUARACHI 🇨🇱 Y DESIRAE KRAWCZYK 🇺🇸 A LA FINAL! 💥💯— ESPN Tenis (@ESPNtenis) October 9, 2020
La chilena y la estadounidense vencieron 7-6 (5), 1-6 y 6-4 a Melichar y a Swiatek para medirse ante Mladenovic y Babos en la definición del dobles femenino.
#RGxESPN @aguarachi pic.twitter.com/QrOqpwdifu
In the second set, Melichar and Swiatek took a big lead again, and this time around, they did not relinquish it. After saving a break point at 1-1, the unseeded duo grabbed the service break for 3-1. Swiatek then gritted her way through a tough service game to consolidate, blasting a backhand crosscourt to wrap up the 4-1 lead.
Powerful Melichar volleying earned her tandem a second break for 5-1, presenting herself with an opportunity to serve out the set in the next game. On this occasion, Melichar romped to triple set point, and on her second chance, she fired a forehand winner down the line, leveling the match after a swift second set.
The deciding-set pressure was palpable, as the teams traded breaks six times in a row from 1-1 to 4-4. Big hitting from both Melichar and Swiatek put them up a break three different instances in that stretch, only to see the steely play by Guarachi and Krawcyzk snatch the lead away each and every time.
Finally, it was Krawczyk who quelled the run of service breaks. The American had to stare down four deuces on her serve in another lengthy game, but she and Guarachi never allowed the unseeded pair to reach break point during that tussle, and eventually, the Chilean punched a sublime volley to convert their fifth game point and hold 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 ahead 0-30. On the next point, a Swiatek miscue found the net, and Guarachi and Krawcyzk were at triple match point. More magical Melichar volleying saved two, but the third time was the charm as a Swiatek forehand was forced long, and Guarachi and Krawcyzk booked a spot in their first major final.
More to follow...