The French pairing of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic won their first title together in Charleston in April. They did not stop there, as they went on to bring their country France to the Fed Cup finals winning their semifinal clash against Netherlands before collecting another title in Stuttgart. For their whirlwind month, they have been named VAVEL USA’s Team of the Month for April.
Having paired together at the beginning of this year, Garcia and Mladenovic were already striking a good partnership as they reached two finals in the first two months of the year. After an early exit in Indian Wells and injury withdrawal from Miami, they regrouped for the clay season in April.
They were actually advised by Fed Cup captain Amélie Mauresmo not to play Charleston, but to prepare for Fed Cup instead. The duo still went ahead as committed and it turned out to be a good decision.
They had a tough quarterfinal where they beat Daria Kasatkina and Elena Vesnina, the pair who halted Santina’s amazing win streak, in a super tiebreak. After a straight sets victory over Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Laura Siegemund in the semifinals, they went up against the experienced pairing of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova for the title. The French duo were the underdogs against the Grand Slam champions, but prevailed in a tight match to clinch their first title together as a pair.
The following weekend, the pair combined once again to play in the decisive doubles rubber against Netherlands in their home country for a berth in the Fed Cup finals. Netherlands already had one foot in the finals having gone up a set against the home favorites. However, Garcia and Mladenovic, helped by the supportive crowd, played out a tense second set to bring it to a decider before eventually overpowering to win the match and the tie. It was a massive effort and a special moment for France who are back in the finals after 11 years.
They say there’s no rest for the weary as the duo then immediately proceeded to Stuttgart following their weekend success. They had a tough opener against Johanna Konta and Siegemund, probably fatigue playing a part, but they found a way in the super tiebreak. After receiving a walkover in the quarterfinals, they successfully overcame Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke to reach the finals where, as second seeds, they set up a clash with the top seeds Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis.
Having lost to them before in the Brisbane finals, it was looking to be heading that way as the French pair lost the first set. Clay has never been Santina’s strongest surface as the French duo clawed their way back to force a super tiebreak. The last time they met, Santina swept past them in the tiebreak, but this time Garcia and Mladenovic put on a solid performance to defeat the doubles number ones and win their second title in a few of weeks.
That Stuttgart win meant they have been on a nine match win streak remaining undefeated for the entire month of April. With their continued success in clay, there could be more joy waiting for this French duo as we get into the climax of the clay season.