Melichar, Swiatek bearing fruits of quick chemistry

A last-minute pairing has produced a quarter-final run for Iga Swiatek and Nicole Melichar

Iga Swiatek, Nicole Melichar, Roland Garros 2020, doubles first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT
 - Chris Oddo

When Nicole Melichar learned that her partner, Xu Yifan of China, would have to miss Roland-Garros due to visa issues, the American didn’t want to deal with the news.

She was focused on the US Open, where eventually she and Xu would reach the final, and decided to worry about it later.

Luckily for Melichar, when she arrived in Paris she found that Iga Swiatek was still available. She reached out to Swiatek's team, and the pair joined forces just a few days before the doubles deadline at Roland-Garros. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

The first-time pairing reached the quarter-finals on Monday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the sixth-seeded tandem, Kveta Peschke and Demi Schuurs.

Swiatek is one of two women to have reached the quarter-finals in both singles and doubles this year in Paris along with Sofia Kenin.

"It was pretty lucky for me because she was just looking at the list of players who didn't have any partners, and I was one of them,” said 19-year-old Swiatek of her chance union with Melichar, who is currently ranked 13th in the WTA’s doubles rankings. “I'm pretty glad and lucky that she picked me." 

Melichar said she was impressed with Swiatek’s doubles game when she and Xu defeated Swiatek and Viktoria Kuzmova in the semi-finals of this year’s Western and Southern Open in New York. It was a no-brainer to make the connection when she saw that Swiatek still needed a partner.

“I was really impressed with her instincts and how good of a player she is and I saw she wasn't signed with anyone so I reached out to her team to see if she wanted to play,” Melichar said. “It was like three days before the sign-in deadline that we decided to pair up." 

Melichar and Swiatek will face the unseeded American duo of Jessica Pegula and Asia Muhammad in the quarter-finals. Swiatek, who will face Italy’s Martina Trevisan in the women’s singles quarter-finals on Tuesday, says that Melichar is a great volleyer that can also serve big and hit with power.

Nicole Melichar, Roland Garros 2020, doubles first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

“I feel like we are a really good team and the communication is also very good,” Swiatek said. “Sometimes it's pretty hard to connect when you are playing for the first time together, but it's pretty nice and she's a great player and great girl, so I'm really happy." 

Melichar says it’s nice to play alongside a young player that has hunger to win. It also doesn’t hurt, she says, that Swiatek has a good heart. 

“She's playing motivated, she's playing amazing,” Melichar said. “I hope she keeps her [singles] matches nice and short, so she's not fatigued, but yeah we have great chemistry, she's super nice and she seems like a very good-hearted person, so I like having that next to me." 

Pavic and Soares roll into semis 

In a battle between this year’s men’s doubles Grand champions, Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares took a tight three-set victory to reach the semi-finals.

Pavic and Soares, the reigning US Open champions, toppled Australian Open winners and No.3 seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 on Court 14 just before the rain came and suspended play on all courts. 

The No.7 seeds broke Salisbury’s serve in the final game to claim their hard-earned victory in two hours and 13 minutes. 

Soares had his serve broken in the third game of the match, but the Brazilian-Croatian duo held serve the rest of the way, saving the two break points they faced in the middle set and all four break points they faced at 3-3 in the decider. 

Pavic and Soares await the winners of the clash between top-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah and Danish-German duo Frederik Nielsen and Tim Puetz.

Mate Pavic, Roland Garros 2020 doubles first round© Loïc Wacziak/FFT