PARIS — Bianca Andreescu was content with the effort despite coming up just short of a second career Grand Slam title on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Canadian and partner Michael Venus of New Zealand were beaten by first-time Grand Slam champions Miyu Kato of Japan and Tim Puetz of Germany 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 in the match tiebreak of the French Open mixed doubles final.
“I think most doubles matches are literally a point here, a point there that really, really count, but I thought we played great,” Andreescu said. “They came in clutch in a few certain moments.
"Yeah, it's a Grand Slam final. It's very nice to be here. Obviously it's a bit disappointing, but I think we did our best.”
Venus’s serve was broken in their opening service game. But from a 2-4 deficit, they ran the table to take the opening set.
They were arguably the lesser team in that set, but won it anyway. Then they were likely the better players in the second set but lost that one.
Kato and Puetz rode that momentum to victory in the match tiebreak, which is played in lieu of a third and deciding set at Roland Garros.
Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., and Venus played match tiebreaks in three of their four matches entering the final. Sudden-death points at deuce also are played in the mixed doubles, and they won more than their fair share of those before Thursday.
On this day, luck wasn’t on their side.
Will they team up for mixed doubles at Wimbledon next month? Venus, who makes his living as a doubles specialist, said he’ll just have turn his phone on “loud” and wait for the call.
“We haven't spoken about that yet, but if the time comes and I'm ready to play mixed doubles or I want to play mixed doubles and I'm healthy and all that, then I would love to,” Andreescu said.
The deadline to sign in for mixed doubles at Wimbledon is July 5, the Wednesday of the first week of competition. The Canadian is scheduled to kick off her grass-court season next week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.
For Andreescu, who harbours ambitions of winning more singles Grand Slam titles, the experience of playing to the end of a major two-week event is a positive.
“I forgot how it felt, but I'm glad that I was able to experience it again,” she said. “But yeah, I have to bring this momentum into the next few tournaments and maybe Wimbledon will do the same thing.”
The other takeaway was the benefit of being on the court with less than the typical load of pressure.
“I really feel like I needed that, just to bring more of that even into my singles game. Sometimes I feel like I can be too serious, too hard on myself. But it's obviously nice to have someone to … tell you that everything is fine, don't worry about it, just move on to the next point,” she said.
“I mean, I could do that myself, but it's always nice to have that person or somebody just say that to you out loud.”
Leylah Fernandez will be the next Canadian looking to play for a Grand Slam title. The Laval, Que., native and Taylor Townsend of the U.S. are set to face Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff in the women's doubles semifinal on Friday.
Kato, a 28-year-old doubles specialist ranked just off her career best at No. 31, had been in the news over the last week after she and her partner in women’s doubles, Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia, were disqualified from their third-round match on Sunday.
An errant ball hit from Kato inadvertently hit a ballgirl on the fly. The chair umpire quickly issued a code violation, which is merely a warning.
But then opponents Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo pointed out that the young girl, perhaps delayed a little by the shock, was in tears.
The umpire, tournament referee and Grand Slam supervisor decided to enforce the rule on injuring a player or on-court official — in which intent is not a factor — in its strictest interpretation and awarded the match to Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo by default.
With that came the loss of the ranking points earned in the women’s doubles event, as well as her prize money — over $30,000 CAD for the pair had they ended up losing the match, and at least $57,000 if they ended up winning it.
Kato, who said her English was not very good, came prepared with a speech for the trophy ceremony she said she wrote Wednesday night in her hotel room.
She got quite emotional, letting go what she had been holding in all week. Kato said she had filed an appeal to have her prize money and ranking points restored.
“It has been really challenging mentally for me the past few days due to the unjust disqualification from the women’s doubles. I want to thank all the players, coaches, everyone, for their heartfelt messages of support,” Kato said.
“I was able to use all of the positive energy to move forward so I could be here today.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
Stephanie Myles, The Canadian Press