Dabrowski overcomes rolled ankle, stolen shoes to author positive Paris run
PARIS — For Gabriela Dabrowski, it's all about Grand Slam titles.
The Ottawa tennis player has been to the late stages of major tournaments often enough that there's no longer reward in just reaching a final.
There was a little more heartbreak for Dabrowski on Friday as the 27-year-old and partner Mate Pavic of Croatia, the No. 2 seeds, lost 6-1, 7-6 (5) to unseeded Latisha Chan of Taiwan and Ivan Dodig of Croatia in the French Open mixed doubles final.
It was Dabrowski's third consecutive mixed doubles final at Roland Garros, but it was the second year in a row the Canadian and Pavic were beaten by the same team. Dabrowski won the event in 2017 with Rohan Bopanna of India.
"I think in all of our matches we kind of started a little bit slowly," said Dabrowski, who won the 2018 Australian Open mixed doubles crown with Pavic.
"So today was no different. We went up 4-1, playing much better in the second set. But we couldn't keep the momentum, sadly. Because I think we could have won that set. And in a (match) tiebreaker, anything can happen."
Stiff winds made things difficult.
"It was really, really tough," Dabrowski said of the challenging conditions. "Sometimes, mid-point, you had clay in your eyes. It was not easy."
The loss capped a week in which Dabrowski fell a bit short of where she hoped to end up.
In women's doubles, Dabrowski and partner Yifan Xu of China — who won a prep tournament in Germany the week before the second Grand Slam of the season — had match point to reach the French Open semifinals.
They led 5-3 in the third set, only to lose 7-5 to the unseeded Chinese pair of Saisai Zheng and Yingying Duan.
"We had a lot of good results coming into the tournament. Even Mate (Pavic) won a tournament coming in. But here in Paris, I had a couple of struggles. I rolled my ankle. And then I had my clay shoes stolen, and they were only one day old," Dabrowski said. "So there have been a couple of punches I've taken the last two weeks that have been a little bit rough."
Dabrowski wasn't able to get the shoes replaced in time. She played with regular "all-court" shoes during the tournament.
Dabrowski had a Friday evening flight to London, where she will prepare for a quick transition to the grass courts. Her first tournament will be in Nottingham.
A year ago, she and Xu won a pre-Wimbledon event at Eastbourne, and then reached the semifinals at the main event.
Meanwhile, there was better news for Canada in junior girls' singles as 16-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez of Laval, Que., reached the final.
The No. 1 seed defeated Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-2, 6-4 on Friday and will play No. 8 seed Emma Navarro of the United States in the final on Saturday.
"The conditions were very difficult. A lot of wind, it was cold. It's raining — and then it’s not raining. I felt I was stronger mentally than her, and was ready to just put one more ball into play," Fernandez said
Fernandez had to play three matches Thursday — two singles and a doubles — because of the backup caused by the Wednesday’s washout.
She showed no ill effects from that Friday. Fernandez posted her fifth consecutive straight-sets singles win.
After a close one in her first round, Fernandez has dropped just 11 games in her last eight sets played.
"From the start, I knew it'd be a difficult match," Fernandez said. "(Osorio Serrano) fights for every point. Last year, I lost to her in the U.S. Open. And I wasn't happy. I wanted my revenge today, and I got it."
It is the second consecutive Grand Slam junior girls’ final for Fernandez, after she lost to Clara Tauson of Denmark at the Australian Open.
Tauson, the No. 1-ranked junior girl in the world, was slated to be the No. 1 seed in Paris. But after she withdrew because of injury, Fernandez (currently at No. 6) took over the top spot. She has handled the pressure like a veteran.
For Navarro, who turned 18 in May and is 16 months older than Fernandez, it is only the second junior Grand Slam tournament she qualified for with her own ranking. She received a wild card into the U.S. Open juniors last summer.
"I have the experience now of being in the final. And I'm happy to be in another one," Fernandez said. "The main thing is to have fun. And embrace the moment."