Desirae Krawczyk and Joe Salisbury lifted their first Grand Slam mixed doubles title in spectacular fashion at Roland Garros, coming back from a heat on Thursday against Russians Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev 2-6, 6-4, 10-5.
The Americans and the British were clearly outmatched in the first set, but held together in the second set and dominated the final Match Tie-Break.
For Krawczyk, the women’s doubles runners-up at Roland Garros last year alongside Alexa Guarachi, this is her first Grand Slam title in any form. Salisbury adds another crown to the one achieved in men’s doubles at the 2020 Australian Open with Rajeev Ram. He is also the first Briton to win Roland Garros since 1982, when John Lloyd teamed up with Wendy Turnbull to win the mixed doubles title.
Both Krawczyk and Salisbury come from the American university system: Krawczyk attended Arizona State University, while Salisbury competed for the University of Memphis. Their previous Grand Slam results include a semi-final at the Australian Open last January, where they were beaten in the Match Tie-Break by Samantha Stosur and Matthew Ebden.
Karatsev and Vesnina completed a tremendous effort on the way to the final. Former world doubles No. 1 Vesnina, who returned to the circuit in February after maternity leave, was contesting her first Grand Slam since Roland Garros in 2018. Karatsev had never competed in doubles at a Grand Slam before this fortnight, and debuted in mixed doubles in any category.
The Russians’ mix of power and experience had been forged in February, when Karatsev asked Vesnina the possibility of joining forces with a place at the Tokyo Olympics in mind, a goal that now seems much closer.
Both showed a sensational form that led them to dominate a great start to finish. Karatsev unleashed his brutal punching power at every opportunity, racking up scores of winners and passing shots that left Krawczyk and Salisbury unanswered. Vesnina, for her part, contributed the skill, finding angles and placing balloons that complemented Karatsev’s rhythm.
Karatsev and Vesnina broke Salisbury at the start of the first set and Krawietz to close the sleeve. Although Krawczyk and Salisbury found chances in the second, at 4-4 the Russians had yet to face a break ball and had given up just six points on serve by then.
However, both players’ forehand errors on Karatsev’s serve opened the door, and Salisbury seized the option, finding a large winning remainder to get the key break. A little discussion about an ace on set ball in the next game was just a small obstacle for the Briton, who sent the match to the Match Tie-break.
Karatsev and Vesnina started off with poor precision, missing volleys on the first two points giving Krawczyk and Salisbury a 4-0 lead. The service improvement allowed them to shorten the gap to 4-6, but the gap was already too big. A great remnant of Krawczyk restored the team’s inertia, and the American closed the final with consecutive aces that could not be subtracted.