Koolhof/Shibahara Top Vliegen/Eikeri For Roland Garros Mixed Doubles Title
Wesley Koolhof and Ena Shibahara's perfect partnership now includes the first Grand Slam title of their respective careers. Teaming for the first time this fortnight in the Roland Garros mixed doubles competition, the Dutch-Japanese pairing improved to 5-0 as a duo with a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over Joran Vliegen and Ulrikke Eikeri in Thursday's final.
The second seeds also knocked out two men's doubles semi-finalist on their way to the title, beating Jean-Julien Rojer (and Alexa Guarachi) in the first round and Matwe Middelkoop (and Demi Schuurs) in the second round.
"Ena, thanks for saying yes to my request," Koolhof said during the trophy ceremony. "Loved playing with you. Hopefully we can play some more in the future. You're doing an amazing job, so keep it up."
In a final contested by two teams making their debuts as duos, Koolhof and Shibahara broke serve first in both sets on Court Philippe Chatrier. But it was Vliegen and Eikeri who started strongest, creating three break points and holding to love before the first changeover.
Koolhof/Shibahara edged ahead with a break in the fourth game but could not serve out the set at 5-3. After Vliegen/Eikeri held twice at love to force a tie-break, the Belgian-Norwegian duo rode its momentum to a 5/2 tie-break lead. But the champions answered back by winning five straight points to pocket the opening set.
Set two was more straightforward, with Koolhof/Shibahara breaking in consecutive return games before the Japanese served out the match.
Koolhof's title run continues a red-hot year for the 33-year-old. He formed a new partnership with Great Britain's Neal Skupski this season, and the pair leads the ATP Tour in wins (35), finals (6) and titles (4) on the year. One of those four titles came at the Mutua Madrid Open in May, when Koolhof won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in his fifth final at that level.
The Dutchman ended the 2020 season at a career-high of No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings after reaching the US Open final and winning the Nitto ATP Finals title with Nikola Mektic. He is now ranked No. 11.