Double landmarks for Kiki

Mladenovic new doubles world No.1 after reaching RG final with Timea Babos.

Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos© Cedric Lecocq / FFT
 - Ian Chadband

Kristina Mladenovic will be crowned the world’s No.1 doubles player next week and hopes to celebrate the landmark in style by lifting the Roland-Garros women’s doubles crown with Timea Babos on Sunday.

‘Kiki’, a firm favourite with her home fans, sealed top spot in the rankings on Friday when she and her Hungarian partner Babos, the second seeds, outplayed Belgium’s Elise Mertens and Belarus’s Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 in just 73 minutes.

It marked the first time that the pair have reached the Roland-Garros final, leaving the 26-year-old Mladenovic just a match away from regaining the crown she won with Caroline Garcia three years ago.

Mladenovic and Babos, who have become an outstanding partnership after winning last year’s Australian Open and WTA finals titles, will face the unseeded duo of Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai for the title, after the Chinese pair beat 15th seeds Kirsten Flipkens and Johanna Larsson 6-4, 6-4 in Friday’s other semi-final.

“It’s exceptional to be in another Grand Slam final, and my third at Roland-Garros,” beamed Mladenovic, who was also runner-up in the mixed doubles with Daniel Nestor in 2013. “You never get tired of reaching a final. For me, it’s always magnificent and you savour each final because you never know if you’ll get back there.”

As for the new No.1 ranking which will be officially confirmed on Monday, Kiki added: “I’m really moved by that. It’s another thing I can tick off my bucket list. It’s a great reward and it’s mine, something that I’ve achieved.”

Mladenovic and Babos, another 26-year-old who also enjoyed a spell of 13 weeks as the doubles No.1 last season, avenged their defeat by Mertens and Sabalenka at Indian Wells in March with a superb display.

A title triumph is far from a foregone conclusion, though, against the Chinese Duan and Zheng, who have beaten three seeded pairings throughout the tournament and even saved a match point against against No.4 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan in the quarter-finals.