Roland-Garros: Six years later, bis repetita for Garcia and Mladenovic?  “There is more detachment”

Roland-Garros: Six years later, bis repetita for Garcia and Mladenovic? “There is more detachment”

They dream of a new coronation together. Respectively eliminated in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the ladies’ singles, Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia will have, whatever happens, left their mark on this 2022 edition of Roland-Garros and brought a smile back to French tennis. On Sunday, they challenge the Americans Cori Gauff and Jessica Pegula in the doubles final with the aim of winning the trophy as in 2016.

Six years ago, they dominated the Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final (6-3, 2-6, 6-4). A match that Garcia remembers well. “It was difficult but it is not comparable at all, it is another story, completely different. It’s another tournament. Kristina has also made other Grand Slam finals with other partners since. So it’s more experience for us“, considered the Lyonnaise.

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After the crisis, the rebirth of a team

Water has indeed flowed under the bridge since then. A few months after their triumph at Roland, they had reached the US Open final and then lost the Fed Cup final together. Before falling out for some time, Mladenovic reproaching Garcia among other things for privileging his individual career at the expense of the France team. The latter’s return with the Bleues in 2019, through the new captain Julien Benneteau, with a victory at the end, moreover, had eased tensions. And this season, the two players have decided to team up again on an ad hoc basis.

After the Australian Open – elimination in the 2nd round by the Kudermetova / Mertens pair -, Mladenovic and Garcia therefore put the cover back on Parisian clay. And success was there immediately despite very precarious states of confidence in singles. How to explain such a success? “We both grew up and both gained experience. I have the impression that we manage to reflect well if there are times when things are not going very well, to adapt our game well, to make good little assessment points when things are not in our favor. We are in the present moment and we manage to have fun. There may be a little more detachment“, considered Garcia again.

It will be France – United States, a great Grand Slam final

Not everything was easy for the French, especially in the semi-finals when they largely lost the first set against Jelena Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kichenok. But they never panicked and perfectly managed the interruption by the rain to finish with a bang in the third set. “What makes the difference is the communication and the fact that both of us wanted to try to find solutions. We wondered how we could help the other when she was a bit less well“, pointed out the Lyonnaise again.

In the final, they will again have to be one, to be in almost perfect symbiosis to have a chance of winning. Because on the other side of the net will stand Cori Gauff and Jessica Pegula, respectively finalist and quarter-finalist in singles at this edition of Roland-Garros. On paper, thanks to their ranking and their last performances, the Americans are stronger. At least individually. So, it will probably be necessary to find an extra soul to bring them down.

And if the Parisian public gave it to them? An atmosphere worthy of a Fed Cup final at home would be welcome. “We are the locals of the stage as a French team and we meet excellent singles players. We laughed saying that Sunday morning it will be France against the United States. It’s interesting to have pairs from a different country each time, and it’s a great Grand Slam final. We were told several times ‘thank you, it’s going to be a great party on Sunday‘”, concluded Mladenovic. And the party would of course be even more beautiful if the cup was at the end.

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