Venus/Harrison Complete Dream Run At Roland Garros
Unseeded pair defeat Gonzalez/Young in doubles final
Michael Venus and Ryan Harrison scored their first Grand Slam titles on Saturday at Roland Garros, prevailing in a marathon battle of unseeded teams. They edged Santiago Gonzalez and Donald Young 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3 in two hours and 14 minutes.
“You always dream of winning a Grand Slam every time you're playing as a kid. You idolize people you see winning Grand Slams. You picture yourself in those moments, so it hasn't really sunk in yet. It feels a little surreal,” said Harrison. “It's even more special that we're able to do it alongside each other because he's like a brother. He's been a part of my family. He taught me how to drive. He was someone who was there for a lot of memorable moments of my life, including my wedding, being one of my groomsmen. To have him with me at the most special moment of my career is surreal.”
Harrison/Venus required a deciding set in all six of their victories to take the title. They are the first doubles team in Roland Garros history to win a deciding set in every match since the doubles event was shortened to best-of-three sets in all rounds in 1990.
The milestone moment came in only their fifth tournament together. Harrison/Venus also prevailed last month on the red clay of Estoril (d. Marrero/Robredo). Venus now has won seven ATP World Tour doubles title and Harrison has four, but all of them had previously come at the 250-level.
Venus had never reached the last eight at a major prior to this fortnight and hadn't won a set in three previous appearances at this event. The 29-year-old Kiwi is only the fifth New Zealander to win a Grand Slam title and the first man to do so since Onny Parun took the doubles title here (w/Crealy) in 1974.
“I had been knocking on the door and in the third round of a few majors. You never know going into a partnership how well it's going to work out. You're always hoping for the best,” said Venus. “What helped us a lot is knowing each other so well. It’s great be able to share this with someone so close.”
Harrison hadn't reached a Grand Slam semi-final before his run with Venus. The 25-year-old American has been excelling throughout 2017. He won his first ATP World Tour singles title this February in Memphis and currently sits at a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 42.
Despite the loss, Gonzalez/Young also enjoyed a breakthrough week by reaching their first Grand Slam final. Gonzalez is the first Mexican to contest a Grand Slam final since Leonardo Lavalle at Wimbledon in 1991. Young is only the fourth African-American male to compete in a Grand Slam final, joining Arthur Ashe, MaliVai Washington and Bryan Shelton.
Both teams traded service holds throughout the opening set despite several break point opportunities, with Gonzalez rallying from 0/40 at 2-3 and Venus doing the same at 5-5. Little separated the pairs during the ensuing tie-break, but a big forehand from Venus at 5/5 brought up set point. The American-Kiwi duo made good on their first chance and grabbed the early advantage.
The second set also featured no breaks of serve en route to another tie-break. A forehand from the New Zealander put Harrison/Venus up 3/1, but Gonzalez/Young responded by going on a five-point run. A volley sent long by Venus at 6/4 brought the match to a deciding set.
After 29 consecutive service holds, it was Gonzalez who blinked first in the final set and gave away the first break of the match at 2-3 with a double fault. Gonzalez/Young responded immediately by breaking Venus in the next game, but a double fault from Young put Harrison/Venus up 5-3. Serving for the biggest win of his career, Harrison made good on their second championship point after a forehand long from Gonzalez wrapped up the contes.