The Bublik-Golubev show moves on to title decider

Entertaining Kazakhstani duo will meet home favourites Herbert and Mahut in Saturday's final

Alexander Bublik, Andrey Golubev, Roland Garros 2021, doubles semis© Cédric Lecocq/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Arms held out like Russell Crowe in the classic film ‘Gladiator’, Alexander Bublik was giving the raucous crowd the look of “Are you not entertained?”

The charismatic Kazakhstani was pinging hot shots for fun as he booked a first ever Grand Slam men’s doubles final ticket alongside his compatriot Andrey Golubev on Thursday.

They fought back to topple Spaniards Pablo Andujar and Pedro Martinez 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 to earn a silverware showdown with France’s finest, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

“We’ve definitely missed the crowd a lot. Having that atmosphere behind us gave us a big boost,” Bublik told “At certain points it felt a bit like singles, hearing people scream ‘Bublik, Bublik’. I was just covering the court as much as I could to help get the win. It was a great team effort.”

The match was live on TV back home and the president of the Kazakhstan tennis federation was watching in the stands of the picturesque Court Simonne-Mathieu to witness Bublik at his wicked best.

“On one side it’s funny because it’s a part of the entertainment,” stated Golubev, reflecting on his partner’s 'tweeners', underarm serves, and extensive trickery.

“It’s very difficult to be really focused from the beginning right through to the end, sometimes it’s good to have something like this to break it up. 

“He’s an entertaining guy, but when he needs to play solid, he plays solid.”

Ranked 37 in the world in singles, Bublik is pleased to click into gear with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon.

“It would be my first and one to remember if we get there,” said the 23-year-old.

“If they take place, I’ll definitely be there. Hopefully, after these results, I can bring Andrey with me for the doubles.

“It’s going to be very different from others I hope to play. I’m definitely looking forward to it. It won’t be as nice as a normal Olympics, but that’s the reality and we have to deal with it.”

The duo, in just their fourth tournament playing as a pairing, were cautious to imagine the moment as Grand Slam champions.

Instead, Bublik was relishing remaining on the clay for a few more days.

“We’re still a bit far from lifting a Grand Slam. I was about to go to Stuttgart but turned around and now we’re accidentally in the finals,” joked Bublik. “It’s the way for me to miss Stuttgart, to miss singles on grass. “

Golubev, concentrating more on doubles these days, is determined to take in the moment and occasion on Saturday.

“It’s only a tennis match, I don’t want to play with any pressure,” suggested the 33-year-old, before Bublik chimed in, “Trust me he will!”

Golubev, a semi-finalist in doubles at Roland-Garros back in 2014 added: “We play 70 matches a year, it’s an extra, of course on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the crowd, a final. We’ll feel it but it will be a nice experience to remember.”

As for Bublik, it was another trademark one-liner from the youngster.

”In either case we will have a Grand Slam trophy or plate at home and a story to tell the grandkids.”

Alexander Bublik, Roland Garros 2021, doubles semi-finals© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

The crowd turned up the volume and jubilation several notches for home favourites Herbert and Mahut.

The 2018 champions managed to fend off three match points to eventually dismiss No.2 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 6-4 for a “top” moment in Paris.

There were Mexican waves and renditions of the national anthem; it was an exhibition of what the sporting world has missed during the ongoing pandemic. 

“Definitely at the top. If it would have been the final, would have been number one, for sure,” declared Herbert regarding their Roland-Garros memories, who had to save two match points in a tense eight-minute closing service game.

“But it's a semi-final. We know it's a great moment, for sure. It's a great relief. We're really happy tonight. But we still know there's one more match to win to get the trophy.”

The reception the home charges received at the end was a carnival atmosphere, Roland-Garros at its finest.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert et Nicolas Mahut, Roland-Garros 2021©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

“It's a lot of emotions actually. What happened with the public was just insane. It's just amazing what we could experience on court. Yeah, relief also from my side because this last game was a pain in the a**, was not an easy one,” said Herbert laughing to Mahut.

“Just happiness. I think we're proud to be able to be now in the final again here in France. Just happy also to give this victory to all the people who are cheering for us and who are pushing for us to win on the court." 

Looking ahead to Saturday’s final, Herbert is wary of the Kazakhstani duo’s capabilities.

“Bublik, it was his second time in the semi-final I think (Australian Open 2020). He's an amazing doubles player. Golubev has been playing amazing the past two years. He's been winning Challengers,” continued the doubles world No.20.

“Actually, it's a team that beat me personally. I didn't play with Nico in the beginning of the year. I know they're playing really good tennis. We saw it also before the match. We're expecting again a big fight in the final.”