Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 12 - finals for tyros and veterans
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Krejcikova reached their first final at a Grand Slam tournament. French doubles pair Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert advanced to the men's doubles final too. Mahut and Herbert have form: they've won four of their seven trips. The local heroes might have a bit of support in the final.
We’re relaxed Grand Slam champions
And so the first title was decided. The mixed doubles final was played ahead of the semi-finals in the women’s singles. Desirae Krawczyk from the United States and Joe Salisbury from Britain took on the Russian pair Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev. The Russians stormed the first set 6-2. But they ran out of steam in the second. The showdown went to a super tiebreaker and the Anglo-American duo won it 10-5 to lift the crown. There were only a handful of spectators on centre court for the final which lasted 76 minutes. It was all rather country club. “All week we have just gone into it kind of relaxed,” said Salisbury. “Enjoying ourselves and seeing what happens. Yeah, we have come out with a Grand Slam title.” Cup of tea to celebrate, Joe?
French Open tournament director Guy Forget and Gilles Moretton, the president of the French tennis Federation, trotted out onto centre court after the first women’s singles match to salute Pauline Parmentier. The 35-year-old Frenchwoman retired last year and the federation handed her a bauble to mark the moment. There were images from the key moments of her career and video tributes from her former teammates on the French Fed Cup squad such as Caroline Garcia, Alizé Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic who spoke about her warmth and good humour. “It’s nice to see those images,” said Parmentier. “It was sad to play my last Roland Garros last year without the crowd ..." They couldn’t help but cheer and clap. "If you’d told me at the age six when I started playing that it would finish like this on centre court, I would have signed up straight away.” They couldn’t help but cheer and clap some more.
There was all kinds of commotion over on Court Simonne Mathieu as the local heroes Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert did battle. They came back from the dead twice. Serving to stay in the match at 3-5, they saved two match points on the way to making it 4-5. They then broke Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah to level at 5-5 before taking the set into a tiebreak against the second seeds. The French pair won that and on went the fight into a third set. They got the break early and served for the match at 5-4. Talk about drama. Herbert served three double faults - the second of the trio eliminated the second of their two match points and the third gave Cabal and Farah a break point to return to 5-5. Herbert managed to extricate himself and Mahut from their slough and ultimately claimed the final set 6-4. As sixth seeds they will be the favourites in the final against Alexander Bublik and Andrey Golubev from Kazakhstan.
Wave goodbye to the fist-clencher
The review's favourite fist-clencher was in action. Maria Sakkari took on Barbora Krejcikova in the second of the semi-finals on centre court. So we had to wait until just after 5pm for them to start their showdown. There was plenty of fist action in the second set as Sakkari sped into a 4-0 lead. But she was reeled in and served for it at 5-4. The 17th seed squandered two set points before clinching it on the third. It elicited a gritted teeth roar of delight and a vigorous fist pump. The 25-year-old Greek served for the decider at 5-4 but fluffed her lines. Krejcikova took the final set 9-7 after three hours and 18 minutes to reach her first final at a Grand Slam tournament. Bravo.
Wonderfully fickle thing big crowds. They were resolutely behind Maria Sakkari. And it wasn't as if Barbora Krejcikova had said something toxic about the spectators and the French Open in the prelude to the tournament. Maybe the public likes Sakkari's all-action style and hand movements. It's evident that she is trying. Krejcikova is languid by comparison. She doesn't look as if she's hitting the ball but it does travel. The 25-year-old was stealth incarnate as she unhinged Sakkari who looked like she was going to win all the way to the point of defeat. And the review hails on-court interviewer Marion Bartoli who exhorted the crowd to acclaim Krejcikova for her performance. It really was a stunning piece of work.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe