For both Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk, college was a vital stepping stone to a professional tennis career. Chile's Guarachi graduated from the University of Alabama in 2013 with a degree in public relations. Krawczyk, from the United States, studied family and human development at Arizona State University and graduated in 2016.
Two years later, they teamed up for the first time - and, in their first tournament together walked away with the title at Gstaad 2018. It was a first WTA trophy for both, and although they didn't form a long-term partnership until 2020, it was a good omen regarding how well they worked together. A first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros 2020 followed, and their first full season as a team has culminated in a WTA Finals debut for both.
Australia: Biggest title to date
Neither Guarachi nor Krawczyk had won a title above WTA 250 level before 2021 - but they rectified that in swift order at the start of the year. Following a third-round run at the Australian Open, they won the WTA 500 trophy in Adelaide, defeating Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani 6-7(4), 6-4, [10-3] in the final.
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Following Australia, the pair temporarily parted ways and garnered further success. Guarachi captured her first WTA 1000 title in Dubai with Darija Jurak, while Krawczyk rejoined former partner Giuliana Olmos to reach the Guadalajara final - experience that will come in handy in her return to Mexico. However, from March onward, Guarachi and Krawczyk would stick together to deliver consistent results on a weekly basis.
Clay: Silverware in Strasbourg
Guarachi and Krawczyk posted their best clay results in the fortnight ahead of Roland Garros. The followed a semifinal showing in Parma, where they were edged by Coco Gauff and Caty McNally, with a fourth title together in Strasbourg.
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It was a dramatic title run that saw them overturn super-tiebreak deficits in the first two rounds, coming from 2-5 down to beat Nao Hibino and Oksana Kalashnikova 3-6, 6-2, [10-8] in their opener and then recovering from 0-5 to save a match point and defeat Julia Lohoff and Alexandra Panova in the quarterfinals. By the final, though, Guarachi and Krawczyk were in a groove and lost just five games to Makoto Ninomiya and Yang Zhaoxuan.
US Open: Grand Slam success
Going into the US Open, Guarachi and Krawczyk had enjoyed consistent results with no lasting dips. They had two titles, two semifinals and three quarterfinals under their belts together. The missing element was a deep run on the major stage. They had entered both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in solid form, but fell in the first round of each, to Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera in Paris and to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sania Mirza in London.
Road to WTA Finals, singles
- Sabalenka reaches new heights in 2021
- From Roland Garros champ to Top 10, the rise of Krejcikova
- Pliskova secures fifth straight spot in year-end championships
- A history-making season for Greece's Maria Sakkari
- Swiatek strings together impressive sophomore season
Road to WTA Finals, doubles
- Krejcikova and Siniakova enjoy 2021 renaissance
- Aoyama and Shibahara hit their stride
- Hsieh and Mertens gel after tough start
- Commitment pays off for Melichar-Martinez and Schuurs
- Stosur and Zhang make the best of limited partnership
- From college to the big time for Guarachi and Krawczyk
In Flushing Meadows, Guarachi and Krawczyk changed that. This time, they actually went into a Grand Slam off the back of consecutive first-round losses in Cincinnati and Cleveland. But they ended up dropping just one set en route to their second major semifinal, losing only to eventual champions Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai.
Krawczyk would also make some history of her own in mixed doubles. She became just the seventh player to capture three of the four mixed doubles Grand Slam trophies in one season after winning Roland Garros and the US Open, with Joe Salisbury, and Wimbledon with Neal Skupski.