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Doubles Take: Previewing the French Open
Both defending champions have already proven they don’t need confidence-boosting wins or sustained momentum to conquer Paris. But in the meantime, a number of teams have established themselves as strong contenders during the clay season.
Published May 24, 2022
WATCH: The Break: Wimbledon ban and Roland Garros underway
The second Grand Slam tournament of the year is here. Doubles Take looks at the contenders in the men’s, women’s and mixed events.
In 2018, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova won their first tournament on the senior tour at the French Open, sneaking through the field without a warmup victory to their credit. Though more established, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert also went through the spring clay-court swing without a tournament triumph that year before delighting their home fans at Roland Garros.
The Czechs and the Frenchmen almost took similar paths to the title last year, with the difference being that Krejcikova and Siniakova claimed the top prize in Madrid.
The two teams have proven they don’t need confidence-boosting victories as they arrive in Paris once again with little to no momentum between them. However, that could lead to their downfall in 2022 as a number of teams on both the men’s and women’s sides have established themselves as strong contenders based on their clay-court performances this year.
Perhaps no team has done more to boost their chances than Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, the second seeds. After going without a title for almost nine months, the former top-ranked duo heads into the French Open with two victories in as many weeks. Based on form alone, they could have a fairly easy path to the quarterfinals, where things could get tricky as Pavic attempts to complete the career Grand Slam.
The Croatians could potentially face Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, the fifth seeds, in a rematch of this year’s Rome final, or two-time French Open winners Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, the ninth seeds, who won in Barcelona and Munich this spring. Herbert and Mahut are also among the top seeds on the bottom half of the draw. Seeded third, they face Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen first up, a usually consistent team in the midst of a season-long slump.
Headlining the men’s draw are Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, two-time major champions who won their first clay-court title together a few weeks ago in Monte Carlo. They’re in a section of the tournament that includes recent titlists Ivan Dodig/Austin Krajicek and Marcelo Melo/Maximo Gonzalez, as well as the always-dangerous Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini.
Horacio Zeballos/Marcel Granollers, Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares and Marcelo Arevalo/Jean-Julien Rojer are among the seeded teams lurking in the top half, as is 2022’s most consistent duo, Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. The sixth seeds, who just teamed up for the first time this year, lead the tour with four titles, including their most recent one in Madrid.
Parity has been the name of the game on the WTA Tour this year: Only one team that’s won two titles will be in the field at Roland Garros, lending weight to the notion that the draw is particularly open. And given the fact that Krejcikova’s rust after months on the sidelines was evident in her first-round singles loss, will a new champion be crowned?
Several teams who’ve played their best tennis of the year over the past few weeks, enter Roland Garros primed to make a major breakthrough. Stuttgart winners Desirae Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs, the fifth seeds, are drawn to face Madrid champions and third seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos in what could be a blockbuster quarterfinal.
Rabat champs Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya, former French Open finalists and the only team in the field with two titles this year; Australian Open semifinalists Anna Danilina and Beatriz Haddad Maia, the 12th seeds; and 14th seeds Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko will look to stop that from happening in what’s arguably the toughest section of the tournament.
Those teams are all on the bottom half of the draw, along with the second seeds, Elise Mertens and Veronika Kudermetova. Mertens, a recent world number one, has claimed titles at three of the four Grand Slams, only missing out at the French. Though the Belgian has been slowed by health issues this spring, her partner Kudermetova comes into the tournament in good form, having won the doubles title in Rome a couple of weeks ago.
On the top half of the draw, Nicole Melichar-Martinez—who just won in Strasbourg—and Ellen Perez, the 16th seeds; Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, the eighth seeds; and fourth seeds Caty McNally and Shuai Zhang could be tapped as contenders ready to make a move if Krejcikova and Siniakova falter. Veterans Lucie Hradecka and Sania Mirza, seeded 10th, also can’t be overlooked as they’ve had a solid clay-court campaign in 2022.
A number of the top doubles players in both draws will also be pairing up for the mixed competition, back to a 32-team field this year.
Shuai Zhang and Nicolas Mahut are the top seeds, followed by Ena Shibahara and Wesley Koolhof. All eyes will surely be on Desirae Krawczyk, who won three mixed doubles majors last year, including Paris, which she claimed with Joe Salisbury. She’s playing Roland Garros with Neal Skupski, her partner during her Wimbledon run.