French duo claims first Grand Slam together
Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic become the first all-French women's doubles champions at Roland-Garros in 45 years.
French pair Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic have claimed their first Grand Slam title together defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina before a partisan home crowd on Sunday.
The fifth seeds overcame a second-set wobble to hold out the two-time major champions 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, becoming the first French pair to win the women's doubles since 1971 when Gail Chanfreau and Francoise Durr triumphed.
While Mladenovic finished runner-up at Wimbledon last year with Timea Babos, this was Garcia's first major final.
"I think these emotions are different, you see. But winning a Grand Slam in France with another French player, Kristina, someone who I like very much and we have lived incredible things together, is something, which, for the time being, is above anything I have lived before," Garcia said.
"These are emotions. You know, winning a Grand Slam is something nobody will take away from you in your life. You've won it. Your name will be on the cup, as well."
While Mladenovic had landed mixed doubles Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon with Daniel Nestor, this was her first in women's doubles and her first on home soil.
"Winning a Grand Slam and here in Roland-Garros, it's 10 steps above what is logical or normal," Mladenovic said.
"So frankly, I have done that. I've gone through these finals, Grand Slam finals for mixed and women's doubles in the past at Wimbledon, but I couldn't really describe the emotions.
"That is, to win here with Caroline at Roland Garros, it's incredible."
Roared on by chants of "Allez Les Bleus", the Frenchwomen stormed to a 5-0 first-set lead with another Russian error bringing up two set points. Garcia missed the first with a forehand volley wide before Vesnina saved the second with an ace.
A gutsy hold avoided a first-set bagel and, with that monkey off their backs, the Russians pressed, breaking when Mladenovic wildly slapped a forehand long for 2-5.
More set points went begging for the French duo before Mladenovic picked off a winning volley to hold for 6-3 on the pair's sixth opportunity.
The No.7-seeded Russians were gunning for their second Roland-Garros title as a team together having triumphed in 2013. They had also claimed the 2014 US Open and finished runner-up at the Australian Open and twice at Wimbledon, and their experience began to shine through in the second set when they broke Garcia for 2-0.
The teams traded breaks before Vesnina thumped an ace down the T for a love hold and a 4-1 lead.
When Makarova picked off a sideline passing attempt at net it brought up two set points against Mladenovic's serve. She missed long on the first but took the set when the Frenchwoman's backhand down the line found the net.
Both teams hunkered down on serve in the third until Makarova netted a backhand volley to leave Vesnina to defend 0-30 at 4-4 in the deciding set, the French crowd seninge their charges' chance, breaking into further chants of "Allez".
Mladenovic brought up three break points when she rolled a winning lob over the Russians' heads and when they broke, Garcia stepped up to serve for her first major title.
One final Makarova backhand long sealed the result. Both Frenchwomen fell to their knees before Garcia ran over to embrace her partner in tears on the ground.
"When I started playing doubles I never thought I would win Roland Garros," Garcia said. "I was so bad when I was at the net, and today, you know, today they were shooting at me. I managed to overcome these difficulties.
"Anybody can improve their games. Even at the beginning if you're really bad in doubles, continue, work hard, and look at what we have done. It's so great to have lived this together."