French pair wins women's doubles at French Open
PARIS (AP) The French pair of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic secured a rare triumph Sunday for the home nation at the French Open, winning the doubles for their first major title in the discipline.
The fifth-seeded pair beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the No. 7-seeded duo from Russia, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. The last French victors in women's doubles in the clay-court major at Roland Garros were Gail Chanfreau and Francoise Durr, who won in 1970 and then defended their title the following year.
''So there are the big tournaments that we have already won, which is a good success in itself, but winning a Grand Slam, and here in Roland Garros, it's 10 steps above what is logical or normal,'' Mladenovic said. ''To win here with Caroline at Roland Garros, it's incredible.''
Mladenovic and Garcia, who have lost just one match together on clay this season, got off to a bright start and built a 5-0 lead. Makarova and Vesnina fought hard and saved six set points before Mladenovic served out the opener. But a change in the momentum saw the Russians take control of the match as they leveled it by taking the second set.
Mladenovic and Garcia kept their composure as pressure mounted toward the end of the decider, winning 12 of the last 15 points.
Mladenovic also won the junior title in girls' singles in 2009 and has won majors in mixed doubles before, at Wimbledon in 2013 and the Australian Open in 2014 with Daniel Nestor.
Other French women have won in recent decades with non-French partners. Mary Pierce lifted the trophy with Swiss player Martina Hingis in 2000 and Gail Lovera teamed with Fiorella Bonicelli from Uruguay to win in 1976.
France hasn't had much to cheer about of late in other competitions at Roland Garros, but on a good day for the home players Geoffrey Blancaneaux won the junior title in boys' singles after saving three match points. Blancaneaux defeated 11th-seeded Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada 1-6, 6-3, 8-6.
Nathalie Dechy was the last French winner in mixed doubles, paired with Andy Ram from Israel in 2007. The last full-French victorious mixed doubles pairing was Tatiana Golovin and Richard Gasquet in 2004.
Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin did win the men's doubles in 2014, but they were the first French champions since Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte in 1984.
Noah was the last French man to win the singles title, in 1983. Pierce was France's last women's singles champion, in 2000.