French hopes Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic thrilled the home crowd at Roland Garros on Sunday, outlasting 8th-seeded Americans Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win the women’s doubles title in Paris.
2016 champions Garcia and Mladenovic took 1 hour and 44 minutes to pull off the come-from-behind win on Court Philippe Chatrier and capture their second Roland Garros title as a team.
Former WTA Doubles World No.1 Mladenovic also claimed the title alongside Timea Babos in both 2019 and 2020, and she now has won a total of four Roland Garros women’s doubles titles.
"I'm just very happy," Mladenovic said afterward. "A Grand Slam title, it's very, very unique, and I have been in a couple finals already, but you always enjoy it and go on the court, give your absolute best because that's such an amazing stage.
"The crowd this year today was absolutely amazing, it was even more than in '16. ... It's an amazing moment for us to share. We will keep that in our memory."
Comeback queens: Garcia and Mladenovic, who have each reached the Top 10 in both singles and doubles, were WTA Doubles Team of the Year and ITF World Champions for 2016. They won four titles that season including their home major at Roland Garros, and also reached the 2016 US Open final.
However, this fortnight marked only the fourth event Garcia and Mladenovic have played together since February of 2017. Their current doubles rankings are No.232 for Mladenovic and No.469 for Garcia, and they received a wildcard to play in the main draw.
But after re-teaming for last year's Olympics and reaching the second round at this year’s Australian Open, it all clicked back into place in their nation’s capital. Garcia and Mladenovic came back from a set down in half of their matches during this tournament, including in both the semifinals and final.
"It's definitely a big surprise, because in 2016, we were in a different situation," Garcia said in press. "We were both I think in Top 10 in doubles. We were a big team so people were expecting us [to win]. It was not the case this year. I think neither did we."
Tale of the final: On Sunday, Garcia and Mladenovic were sturdier behind their first deliveries, winning 65 percent of their first-service points compared to a 51 percent success rate for the Americans. The French squad went 0-for-6 on break points in the first set, but were 5-for-6 in the last two sets combined.
"First set was really tough for us, we couldn't do what we wanted," Garcia said. "I think we reacted very well at the end of the changeover. We changed our tactics and really believed in it and really went all the way for it.
"The energy changed completely. The fans were really cheering for us, and I think it was a big help. We kept our line until the end, and I think we just improved through the match."
Break point success set the tone of the opening frame early. Gauff and Pegula saved five break points before Gauff held for 1-1, then broke Mladenovic in the very next game en route to a one-set lead.
But Garcia and Mladenovic took charge in a topsy-turvy second set when Mladenovic punched a volley winner to break the Pegula serve for 5-3. Garcia served out the set in the next game to level the final.
In the opening game of the third set, a crosscourt backhand winner by Garcia polished off a love break of the Gauff serve, and the French pair raced to 4-0 from there.
Serving for the championship at 5-2, Mladenovic had to save a break point and saw her first two match points slip away, but on the third opportunity, a Garcia overhead wrapped up the title for the home team.