Torrential rains in France broke all past records and made life difficult for people in all walks of life. However, regardless of the rain-soaked Paris, organizers of the year’s second Grand Slam at Roland Garros did a remarkable job. They fought the rains, inconvenience and time to ensure that the 115th edition of the French Open proceeded as per schedule with finals on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In the mixed doubles final played on Friday evening, India’s Leander Paes and Switzerland’s Martina Hingis emerged champions after a match tiebreak against Sania Mirza/Ivan Dodig. The line-up for the title games on Saturday and Sunday has also been decided after the conclusion of all semifinal matches. Women’s defending champion Serena Williams maintained her form in the semifinal against Netherlands’ giant killer and unseeded Kiki Bertens. The American scored another two-set win over the gritty Dutchwoman and on Saturday, she will take on Spain’s no.4 seed Garbine Muguruza. The victory will take Serena on level terms with Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam victories. In men’s semifinals, top seed Novak Djokovic and no.2 seed Andy Murray scored comprehensive wins over their rivals and set up Sunday’s summit clash against each other.
The mixed doubles final was the last fixture at the Roland Garros on Friday and the line-up had an Indian on either side, which ensured that a Grand Slam title would go to an Indian, regardless of the result of the match. In the end, Leander Paes/Martina Hingis got the better of Ivan Dodig/Sania Mirza after the first two sets were squared. Earlier, Paes/Hingis had beaten the French- Czech duo of Edouard Roger-Vasselin/Andrea Hlavackova in a tough semifinal that went to match tiebreak but the Indo-Swiss pair prevailed with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-7. The passage to the final for no.2 seeds Sania Mirza/Ivan Dodig wasn’t easy either. The Indo-Croat combo lost the first set 4-6 in their semifinal against the French pair of Kristina Mladenovic/Pierre Hugues-Herbert. But Sania/Dodig bounced back in the match by taking the second set and the ensuing match tiebreak to win at 4-6, 6-3, 12-10.
In the title game, Sania/Dodig began strongly against Hingis/Paes by taking the first set at 6-4 but slipped in the second as Hingis/Paes applied pressure. In a closely fought final, the decision had to come from the match-tiebreak with Hingis/Paes prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. This was the 10th Grand Slam mixed doubles title for Paes and 5th for Martina Hingis. It was also the completion of a career Grand Slam for the 42-year-old Paes and 35-year old Hingis, who had together won mixed double crowns at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles last year.
Earlier on Friday, top seeded Serena Williams reached the women’s singles final by defeating Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens. Now Serena is just one match away from equaling Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam titles as she gets ready to take on Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in Saturday’s final. The Spaniard reached the final by beating Australia’s Samantha Stosur in the other semifinal on Friday. Both semifinals were relatively easy affairs for the eventual winners. Serena had not dropped a set in the tournament but Bertens almost reversed that trend in the first set by stretching the defending champion to the tiebreak. The Dutchwoman didn’t yield easily and did her best before losing the first set. In the second Serena proved too powerful as she raced away to a 7-6, 6-4 victory. In the other women’s semifinal, Muguraza packed too many guns for the Australian veteran Sam Stosur and came through with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
In the first men’s singles semifinal, British no.1 Andy Murray dashed the hopes of Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka for the second successive title in Paris. Murray, who had a wretched start in the tournament in the first and second round matches, played clinical tennis against Wawrinka. The Scot won the first two sets with ease but dropped the third. In the end, he entered the final with a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory. In Sunday’s final, Murray will play a re-match of his Italian Open final with world no.1 Novak Djokovic. The Serb finally stopped the impressive run of Austrian Dominic Thiem, who is the lone man from his country to have ever entered a Grand Slam semifinal. Against Djokovic, Thiem couldn’t hold himself together. The Serb hardly broke sweat in his 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory over the Austrian.
On Saturday, the men’s doubles finals will be played between USA’s Bryan Brothers and Spain’s Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez while the women’s final on Sunday will feature Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic and Russians Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina.
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