Garcia, Mladenovic create 'precious moments' together

 - Alex Sharp

The home pairing battled back to lift their second Roland-Garros trophy as a team

Caroline Garcia et Kristina Mladenovic / Finale double dames Roland-Garros 2022©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

The formidable French duo Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic reclaimed the Roland-Garros women’s doubles title in front of a carnival atmosphere on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday.

The 2016 champions fended off the all-American combination of Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, before racing into the stands to celebrate with their friends and family.

With a lack of preparation and gruelling tests along the way, Garcia couldn’t believe what they had accomplished once again. 

“It's definitely a big surprise, because in 2016, we were in a different situation. We were both in top 10 in doubles. We were a big team so people were expecting us. It was not the case this year,” admitted the reinvigorated 28-year-old.

“You take one day at a time, just really focus on the present and really enjoy it. 

“In tennis you have to take everything you can, a title in WTA, it's something very big. In Slams, it's even bigger. You never know when you are going to come back, and you really have to enjoy it and take all the positive you can.

“I have friends from Lyon who left there at 4:30 am and they are here for you. It's very precious and you create moments together that you will share as memories for your entire life.”

The home duo burst out of the blocks; a remarkable rally involving the quartet of players transferring forward and back up the court culminated in an early chance.

However, Gauff and Pegula, who both made the second week in singles too, utilised their firepower to chalk up a 2-1 break lead, the telling advantage to post a dominant set lead.

The Frenchwomen, courtesy of years on court together in their tricolore national kit, began to dictate more of the close-quarter net exchanges and combined seamlessly in the longer rallies.

This time they capitalised on their chance, Garcia flashing a forehand pass for 2-0 and the ardent home support raised the volume of their chants several notches.

Gauff and Pegula dissolved the lead for 3-4, but Garcia and Mladenovic were simply in the groove.

Supreme reactions and acute-angled volleys carved the ball to the open sections of the court. A decider was required to split this in-form four.

Garcia placed the Americans on the back foot, arrowing a backhand pass for a 1-0 break. The French pairing sensed their chance and soared towards their second major together in style, as chants erupted across the whole stadium.

“Today this atmosphere, these are memories that we will never forget. It's as special or even more special than before,” added Mladenovic, also a champion here alongside Timea Babos in 2019 and 2020.

“Living that together with Caro, speaking of the energy, we had the impression that it was France against the U.S. It was like a Fed Cup match. It was amazing to see this crowd present for a final today. A lot of shivers and emotions, it was even more than in 2016." 

Pegula, set to rise to world No.9 in singles and No.12 in doubles, paid tribute to the other trio on court on Sunday.

“Congrats Kiki and Caro, amazing. Second time Caro, Kiki you’ve won many times, it’s incredible,” stated the 28-year-old American.

Garcia Mladenovic Roland-Garros 2022©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

“It’s been a really long two weeks in singles and doubles. Thanks to Coco for playing, I’ve got to know her team and her family. I really enjoyed it, grinding out this fortnight with them. They made it a lot of fun. I hope we can keep going.”

It was less than 24 hours after Gauff had succumbed to the all-court wizardry of Iga Swiatek in the singles final. The teenager was back on court with a smile to cap a fortnight brimming with pride.

“Today wasn’t easy. I hope we can meet in another final, maybe even at Wimbledon. That would be pretty cool,” said the teen sensation, before thanking the crowd.

“Honestly, I was telling Jessica at the changeovers, this was probably one of the most fun atmospheres I’ve ever played in. The drums were pretty cool, I felt like I was at an American football game. Hopefully we’ll be back next year." 

Over to Mladenovic with some poignant words for her opponents.

“Amazing tournament. You both lost to Iga, so basically you went all the way, in my opinion,” quipped the Frenchwoman. “Singles and doubles, hats off.

“Coco, 18-years-old, going back with two trophies from Roland-Garros, respect. Congrats to you and your team.”

Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic, Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff, trophées, finale dames, Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT