Defending champs Krawietz, Mies searching for a repeat

 - Chris Oddo

German duo lived the dream in Paris in 2019. Now they return pledging to stay loose as they mount their title defence.

©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

Defending Roland-Garros men’s doubles champions Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz spent much of the summer wondering if they’d ever get the chance to return to the site of their greatest professional achievement in 2020.

With the coronavirus pandemic raging, the duo were home in Germany doing everything they could to help their communities.

Krawietz stocked shelves at a local grocery store, while Mies delivered fresh fruit to essential workers and the special needs community. 

All the while they wondered if they’d ever get to come back to defend their doubles title in Paris. 

"We weren't sure what was going to happen in the next few months, there was a point that we were practicing, three, four months and we didn't know what was going on," Mies told after the pair defeated Alexander Bublik and Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday in Paris. 

In a year of negatives, the Germans joke that there was one positive in having Roland-Garros take place in the fall.  It made their reign last longer. 

"We were actually joking that the good thing about this situation is that we are the French Open champions for two years in a row,” Mies said with a laugh. “We get to be the champions for a longer time which is pretty nice, but of course you prefer to play, and it was such a nice tournament last year that we could not wait to come back to this magical place." 

Krawietz and Mies made major history in 2019 at Paris, becoming the first German duo to ever win the Roland-Garros men’s doubles crown in just their ninth tour-level event as a duo - and their first at Roland-Garros. 

Kevin Krawietz, Andreas Mies, Roland Garros 2019, doubles final© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

The pair would be happy to be playing any tournament, but the fact that they are back in Paris puts a giant collective smile on their faces. 

"In 10 years or 20 years, whenever we come back here it will always be a special place, doesn't matter where we go, we are always going to remember the positive energy and it's wonderful to be back in such a special place,” Krawietz says. 

“It was our breakthrough and we have so many good memories,” adds Mies. “We talked about it yesterday in the locker room and we felt that when we came here we had goosebumps right away, coming into the start of Roland-Garros, to see Court Philippe-Chatrier again, to be in the locker room, to be at the practice site again, so many nice memories.”

Krawietz and Mies have only been able to play eight matches since tennis restarted this summer in North America, but they’re thrilled to be back on the red clay and feeling hopeful that their tennis is rounding into shape at the right time. 

At their core they are the same down-to-earth duo that entered the draw last season with no idea of the success that was waiting in store for them, but they do have that champion’s mystique now, and the defending champs hope that it works in their favour. 

Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies© Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

"On the tour of course you get more respect from other players, they know you better now, because they respect your performances,” Mies said. "You have to earn your respect and of course you see that the guys are looking at you maybe a little bit differently and they are hopefully scared of you also a bit more now, when they play us.”

With one round under their belt, Krawietz sticks to the script and tosses out a cliché when asked about the pair’s mindset in 2020. They’ll face the all-Argentine duo of Diego Schwartzman and Federico Coria in the second round. 

"It sounds very boring but we go round by round and Thursday against Schwartzman and Coria, it's going to be a tough next round, but anything is possible," he says. 

Mies believes that the challenge is simple. Just keep the right attitude and everything else will take care of itself. 

"Our mindset is to go into every match and to enjoy it and have the same mindset as last year,” he said. “We thought about what made us strong last year. Why did we go so far? And it was because we played relaxed, we played fun, and we enjoyed ourselves on the court and we played aggressive. We try to have this mindset for every tournament. Sometimes it works better, sometimes it's worse."