MIAMI, FL, USA - Julia Goerges began the day with a disappointing Miami Open singles loss to Caroline Garcia, only to turn around and pull off an impressive doubles win alongside former World No.1 Simona Halep, shocking 2018 Australian Open champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, 4-6, 6-1, 10-6.
"I asked her because I wasn’t supposed to play doubles here," Goerges explained straight off the doubles court on Saturday. Then, I realized I wanted to play, and I thought of Simona and our great singles match in Doha."
Goerges and Halep played a pair of scintillating tie-breaks at the Qatar Total Open in February, and just as they brought out their best in singles, the same proved in doubles against the No.2 seeds, rallying from a set down to win in 74 minutes on Court 6.
"It’s a great combination with her at the baseline and me being active at the net. I think we proved that it’s a good combination today, and we had a lot of fun, which is the most important thing."
The German has long been a solid doubles player, qualifying for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global with fellow Ace Queen Karolina Pliskova back in 2016. Halep is less prolific off the singles court, but has enjoyed success in the past, finishing runner-up at the Coupe Rogers that same year with Monica Niculescu. In the past year, the reigning Roland Garros champion has played doubles just three times, including once in Miami last March.
Hours removed from her defeat against Garcia, Goerges wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to help Halep out of doubles semi-retirement.
"I think first of all, it’s always a motivation if you play with someone like Simona," she said. "I said I would love to play some doubles here to get some extra matches. It can be a long wait where you don’t have matches, especially when the tournament is two weeks.
"For me, it was just about working on everything we practiced, and no matter if you lose in singles, I think there’s always another opportunity, and I tried to take it today. I’m obviously very happy that we won."
Babos and Mladenovic ended 2018 on the best possible note, winning the WTA Finals over WTA Year-End World Co-No.1s Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, but fell behind early in the second set and couldn't make up the deficit in the ensuing match tie-break.
"If there are two singles players playing their side pretty well and making it tough for the opponents, there’s always a great opportunity to win the match, and especially with deciding points, you never know where it’s going.
"Overall, we did a great job of just adjusting, putting our strengths together, and it worked out well."
Up next for Goerges and Halep will be one of two teams made up of solid doubles players as Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Lucie Hradecka take on Niculescu and Abigail Spears.
"We haven’t talked about it," Goerges laughed when asked about playing together more in 2019. "It was basically a last minute decision, but we’ll see what the future brings. We’re still here in the tournament, so we’ll go from one match to another, and then we’ll see."