French Open: Babos/Mladenovic complete title defence with win over Guarachi/Krawcyzk 
Timea Babos (left) and Kristina Mladenovic (right) have sealed their fourth Grand Slam title as a team, the Hungarian/French duo successfully defending their title at the French Open. Photo: Julian Finney

Playing their seventh Grand Slam final as a team, second seeds and defending champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic faced 14th-seeded Chilean-American duo Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawcyzk, the first encounter between both pairs, with the French Open doubles title at stake.

It was uncharted territory for the 14th seeds, who have two title wins together to account for, and are in the quarterfinal or better round at the Grand Slams for the first time. It was a also historic final for Guarachi, in particular, as the she is the first Chilean woman to feature in a Grand Slam final since Anita Lizana won the 1937 US Open.

Guarachi (right), seen here with Krawcyzk after their semifinal win, is the first Chilean woman in a Grand Slam final in over 80 years. Photo:
Guarachi (right), seen here with Krawcyzk (left)  after their semifinal win, is the first Chilean woman in a Grand Slam final in over 80 years. Photo: Clément Mahoudeau

It was not to be for Guarachi/Krawcyzk, however, as their more experienced Hungarian/French opponents outlasted them, the latter following in the footsteps of their male counterparts, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, who defended their title in the men’s doubles final yesterday. The result also sees them boast four titles to their name now, two at each of the Australian Open and here in Paris.

The now-two time winners in Paris also become the first team to successfully defend the women’s doubles title here since Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual in 2009, besides being the third team to achieve that feat this century, with Ruano Pascual and Paola Suárez doing so twice, 2002 and 2005.

Babos/Mladenovic prevail in a tense opening set tussle

After trading comfortable service holds to kick off the match, the defending champions made the first move by breaking their opponents in the third game. A couple of double faults in the next game by the second seeds, however, saw their lead disappear.

The Grand Slam final debutants looked to have finally settled in the match after holding serve to lead 3-2, before carving up two break chances in the next game. The more experienced Hungarian/French duo would put those away and then overcame a collision on their third game point to grab the hold.

That game proved to be an important one as the second seeds took the next two games in succession, surrendering just four points to their opponents in the process. A brave hold by the Guarachi/Krawcyzk from two set points down ensued which gave the defending champions the right to serve out the set. The final game, which lasted seven minutes, saw Babos/Mladenovic edge out the 50-minute set, saving two break points before converting their sixth set point.  

Babos/Mladenovic see off challenge from Guarachi/Krawcyzk for successful title defence

Like the previous set, both pairs started off with a trade of holds, this time to fifteen. The 14th seeds soon found themselves trailing by a break after getting broken in the third game. After notching the first love service hold of the match on their next service game, the Chilean/American pairing broke back in no time to equalise the score at 3-3, doing so on their second break point.

Babos/Mladenovic responded in the next game by delivering a forehand smash winner to set up break point, which they duly took to enact a 4-3 lead, only to be broken back by their opponents once again after that.

The defending champions were not let down by that hiccup as they roared off to a 5-4 lead next, breaking the 14th seeds once again to earn the chance to serve for the title. The Chilean/American duo, however, would find a timely forehand volley winner to break right back.

That proved to be the last straw for last year’s winners as they ran away with the last two games, dropping just two more points in the process, to successfully serve out the title 6-4, 7-5, by leashing a forehand winner on championship point, to secure their fourth Grand Slam victory together as a pair, after an hour and 33 minutes on court.

Both teams shake hands at the net after their end of their match. Photo: Julian Finney
Both teams shake hands at the net after their end of their match. Photo: Julian Finney

Babos/Mladenovic served up two aces in the match and won 67% of points on the first delivery, besides converting six out of total nine break opportunities. Guarachi/Krawcyzk, in contrast, kept their double fault count low, five less than their opponents who had nine, besides producing a first serve percentage of 74 to their opponent’s 49.

However, the Chilean/American pair were less fruitful on winning service points, managing just 52% and 39% of first and second serve points, respectively. A less productive break point conversion rate of 36% proved costly for the first time Grand Slam finalists too.