Fernandez, Townsend stun No.2 seeds for final berth

Canadian-American pair to meet Hsieh and Wang for doubles crown in Paris

Leylah Fernandez, Taylor Townsend, Roland-Garros 2023, women's doubles semi-final© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Leylah Fernandez and Taylor Townsend have an appetite for success that won’t be satisfied unless they take one step further to a maiden Grand Slam doubles title on Sunday.

A 6-0, 6-4 triumph over second seeds and last year’s finalists Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula has only whet their appetite for more.

If Townsend’s post-match semi-final celebration is anything to go by, it is only a taste of what is to come should they triumph over unseeded finalists Hsieh Su-Wei and Wang Xinyu.

“It’s just an inside joke that I have with my team because we found some of the food sometimes doesn't have any seasoning on it. I'm, like, sprinkling a little salt, seasoning, just season the crowd, season the ball, the court, everything,” Townsend said.

“So it's just, you know, adding a little flavour. That's my thing.”

“Add a little bit of spice,” Fernandez said.

“Sugar, spice, everything nice. We're Bubblegum Babies, no Powerpuff Girls… I'm just adding a little sprinkling, a little sauce on what we got going on court.”

The Canadian-American pair barely put a foot wrong as they avenged defeat in this year’s Miami final.

Neither was broken in the 66-minute outing and Fernandez said the pair’s honest and fun approach to their matches played a significant role.

“I think that's the most important thing out there, to have good chemistry off court,” said the 20-year-old Canadian. “Taylor and I have known each other for a couple of months. I don't think we talked before, partnering before Indian Wells. We did not talk… but then our relationship started to grow more and more off court.

“We're like very comfortable with each other. We are talking, joking around and we're not afraid to tell each other the truth, which that's the most important thing, which when she sees I'm playing like really bad, she's not afraid to say, ‘You're playing like s---’, and then like same thing for me and our team. We're always honest with each other.”

Only first-time pairing Hsieh and Wang stand between them and the trophy.

Following an 18-month hiatus, Hsieh won through to her first Grand Slam doubles final since her 2021 Wimbledon triumph on Friday.

The four-time major champion from Chinese Taipei continued her unbeaten run with Wang as they ousted American-Australian sixth seeds Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Wang Xinyu, Hsieh Su-Wei, Roland-Garros 2023, women's doubles semi-final© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

It will be Hsieh’s first Roland-Garros final since winning the title with Peng Shuai nine years ago.

“We're in the final. That's good, so we need her to play a full court,” Hsieh said. “She's only 21 years old, she won two singles rounds, she's got energy, she can run full court, I say 'Xinyu, go for it'.”

In just her third Grand Slam doubles draw and second tournament with the former world No.1, Wang's expectations before Roland-Garros were understandably tempered.

“I didn't see this was going to happen before all of this,” she said. “I didn't have a great start of the clay season and I wouldn't say it's my favourite surface… When you really believe it and when you really just like ‘OK I'm going to go out and try all my best and just to enjoy’, I think that was the key for me.”