Pavic, Soares lock in final against defending champions

 - Chris Oddo

Reigning US Open champs to face Roland-Garros titlists from last year after upset of top seeds

Mate Pavic, Bruno Soares, Roland-Garros 2020, semi-finals©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Croatia’s Mate Pavic and Brazil’s Bruno Soares had tasted Grand Slam success separately before, but it was not until last month’s US Open they showed the world what they were capable of, more than a year after they first teamed up. 

Pavic and Soares stormed to their first Grand Slam title in New York, and here in Paris, seeded seventh, their confidence was riding high after Thursday’s 7-6(4) 7-5 win over two-time Grand Slam champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia, in the men's doubles semi-finals.

The victory for the Brazilian-Croatian duo set a mouthwatering final clash with last year’s Roland-Garros champions, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies

The Germans, unseeded champions last year in Paris and the No.8 seeds this week, stretched their winning streak at Roland-Garros to 11 consecutive victories on Thursday with a 6-3, 7-5 triumph over the ninth-seeded pairing of Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic

“It’s unreal,” said Mies after the match. “It’s just so nice to come here and play here, we’ve felt comfortable from the start. There’s something about this place.”  

Both teams are playing their best tennis and both teams are hungry for a slice of Grand Slam history. So who has the edge? 

“It’s definitely the biggest challenge that we could possibly get in the final,” Mies said. “I think they’re the hottest team right now on the tour. They won the US Open, then [in] the final here. I don’t think there’s a better team right now. They have good chemistry, they play really well and they don’t have many weaknesses in their game.” 

Soares said it was important he and Pavic continued to carry momentum forward if they hoped to snag a second straight major title. They have managed to do so well so far in Paris, notching victories over three seeded teams in their past three rounds, all against former Grand Slam champions. 

"I think for us it's basically about keeping the energy up and playing with conviction,” Soares told after beating the top-seeded Colombians.

Krawiets and Mies lost to Soares and Pavic in their only previous meeting, last August in Cincinnati. Soares said no matter the history, or the opponent, the goal was to bring intensity. 

“We have to bring full-on energy, it's the final,” he said. “Whoever is in the final is doing something right over the tournament so it's going to be a tough match no matter what. I think those moments, the tennis is there, the guys are playing well, so it comes down a lot to how you handle the pressure, and positive energy." 

Krawietz and Mies made history in 2019 in Paris when they became the first all-German duo to win a Roland-Garros title. They achieved the feat in just their ninth tour-level event as a duo. At the time they never imagined they would be back with a shot to do it all over again. 

Now they are within one match of completing the first successful men’s doubles title defence at Roland-Garros since Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor in 2012. 

Kevin Krawietz, Andreas Mies, Roland-Garros 2020, semi-final©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

"Honestly if you would have told me six months ago that we would be back in the final, I wouldn't believe you,” Mies said. “We know how difficult it was last year to win the title here, and now to get the chance again to win another title, in our second attempt here, is unbelievable.”  

Soares and Pavic own five Grand Slam doubles titles between them, but neither has ever broken through on the terre battue in Paris. Pavic reached the final in 2018 with Oliver Marach, but they fell to Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. 

No excuses can be made this time around. It was time to go big or go home, Soares said. 

"If you lack motivation to play a Grand Slam final, I don't know where you are going to get motivation from,” he said. “For us, it's a huge match, like every single Grand Slam final that we play. Of course me and Mate never won it before so it would be extra special to add this one to the list.”