French duo Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic edged top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in straight sets for their first title together. That win was also the first time a French pair had won a women’s doubles title in 12 years.
A Bad Week Ends in a Good Way for Garcia
Just a week ago, Garcia was wrongly accused of hurling aracist remark on her opponent during her first round singles match. She was subjected to hate as a result before WTA eventually stepped in to clear her name. In a way it seemed like ‘tennis God’ did exist as a few days later, Garcia, who teamed up with Mladenovic, went on to defeat Mattek-Sands and Safarova 6-4, 7-5 for their first title together. For all the wrongful hate she received, the victory felt only befitting. In an interview with WTA, Garcia mentioned playing in the doubles helped to take her mind off a tough week.
Third Time's the Charm
Mladenovic and Garcia paired up from the start of this year mainly with the upcoming Olympics in mind. Previously, they had different partners and both made it to the WTA Finals last year. The decision to play together almost paid off in their first tournament in Sydney where they reached their first finals. Up a set and a double break, they however failed to close it out and were thwarted by the number one doubles team, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. Even though they lost, it looked like a great partnership was brewing.
They were knocked out in the Australian Open third round but were back at it at the Fed Cup quarterfinals playing in the dead doubles rubber, dropping just one game to cap off an amazing victory. In the Middle East swing, they once again made it to the finals in Dubai and were favourites to lift the trophy. Alas, it eluded them as they went down in straight sets to Chia-Jung Chuang and Darijia Jurak. From there on, it did not look good for the French duo as they made first round exits in Doha and Miami and withdrew from Indian Wells.
With Fed Cup semifinals looming ahead, the players mentioned in the interview with WTA that captain Amélie Mauresmo had actually advised them not to play Charleston so that they can prepare for the tie. However, they went ahead to compete dropping just one set en route to their third final this year. There they came up against the top seeds Mattek-Sands and Safarova who had just won Miami a week earlier and were riding on confidence and momentum. The French duo though were quickest off the mark winning the first set. Serving for the match in the second set, they let slip three match points before finally clinching their first title together.
End France’s 12-year Drought in Women’s Doubles’ Title
The Charleston title was Garcia’s third doubles title and Mladenovic’s 13. Most interestingly, it was the first time a French pair had won on the WTA circuit in 12 years. The last time that happened was in 2004, where Marion Bartoli teamed up with Émilie Loit to win on red clay in Casablanca. That win coincidentally coming in the same week as Garcia’s and Mladenovic’s victory. That year in 2004, France had also gone on to reach the Fed Cup finals before losing in a close encounter to Russia with Bartoli and Loit beaten in the fifth doubles rubber.
The Charleston title could certainly boost their confidence and aid as good preparation as they get ready to take on the Dutch in the coming weekend. Could this be the year France make their appearance back at the finals ending another drought? With the form the players are in, they would certainly be looking to achieve another milestone.