Six double acts to make a mark

 - Dan Imhoff

Men's and women's doubles tandems prepare for first-round action kicking off on Tuesday.

Lucie Safarova©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

We highlight a trio of doubles teams from each of the men's and women's doubles draws who will be vying to become Roland-Garros champions in 2019.

Safarova to bid adieu

Two-time Roland-Garros doubles champion and 2015 singles runner-up Lucie Safarova was due to hang up her racquets with one last Australian Open campaign in January only for injury to postpone her retirement. The popular Czech will instead bid farewell at Roland-Garros alongside Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.

“It's possible to be a sweet person and still succeed in this gladiatorial sport of ours. Just look at Lucie Safarova, who is retiring after Roland Garros,” Martina Navratilova wrote in her WTA column.

Safarova and Cibulkova meet Andrea Petkovic and Sofia Kenin in the first round.

Men's top seeds ready to roll

Polish-Brazilian pair Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo begin their quest for a second Grand Slam title together in Paris to go with their 2017 Wimbledon silverware.

Kubot had previously won the Australian Open in 2014 with Robert Lindstedt, while Melo has triumphed on the clay at Roland-Garros alongside Ivan Dodig five years ago. Kubot and Melo have won 12 titles together, with their strongest showing this season being a runner-up finish at Indian Wells. They open against Spanish pair, Roberto Carballes Baena and Jaume Munar.

Heightened expectations

Their results may not have set the world alight just yet – three straight losses from their first four matches as a team – but Americans Mackenzie McDonald and Reilly Opelka will bring a contrast of court speed and service speed to the Roland-Garros doubles draw. Not to mention a whopping 33cm disparity in height. At 211cm – or 6’11” in the old scale – Opelka is the joint tallest player on tour. McDonald stands at 1.78m (5’10”). They face Ricardas Berankis and Yoshihito Nishioka first up.

Mahut and Melzer join forces

One half of the defending men’s doubles winning tandem, 37-year-old French favourite Nicolas Mahut teams up with 2010 Roland-Garros singles semi-finalist Jurgen Melzer, 38, for just the second time.

Mahut and Cecchinato©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Mahut surged back from two sets down to upset last year’s semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato in the opening round of his singles campaing on Sunday and will face the Italian again in the first round of the doubles. Cecchinato will pair up with his compatriot Andreas Seppi.

Women's top seeds begin title defence

Czech 23-year-olds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova made their Grand Slam breakthrough with victory at Roland-Garros last year before backing it up with a Wimbledon trophy a month later.

The defending champions return as No.1 seeds and count a runner-up finish at Indian Wells as their stand-out result for the season to date. They open against Nadia Kichenok and Abigail Spears.

Teens chase rare history

Last year’s Roland-Garros girls’ singles champion, 15-year-old Cori Gauff became the youngest player in a decade to win a WTA main draw match in Miami this year and is the youngest player to hold a WTA ranking. The American will team with 17-year-old Frenchwoman Loudmilla Bencheikh, as a wildcard pairing in the women’s doubles. While a long shot, the duo would become the youngest to win a Grand Slam title since another 17-year-old/15-year-old tandem – Martina Hingis and Mirjana Lucic at the 1998 Australian Open. They meet Chinese duo Han Xinyun and Wang Yafan first.