Two Belgians in the men's doubles final at Roland-Garros
Sander Gillé and Joran Vliegen reached the final of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland-Garros. It had been almost 20 years since a Belgian pair had achieved such a feat.
The Limburg duo, composed of 32-year-old Sander Gillé (ATP 40) and 29-year-old Joran Vliegen (ATP 41) were playing in their first Grand Slam final, but were unable to avoid defeat on the Philippe-Chatrier Court against the No.4-ranked pairing of Croatian Ivan Dodig (ATP 8) and American Austin Krajicek (ATP 5). They won in two sets: 6-3 and 6-1 after 1 hours and 20 minutes of play.
This is the best result achieved by the Belgian duo in any of the four major tournaments before this 2023 Roland-Garros. Sander Gillé and Joran Vliegen had never managed to get beyond the quarter-finals they reached at the 2020 US Open, although Joran Vliegen had already contested the mixed doubles final last year at Porte d'Auteuil, with Norway's Ulrikke Eikeri.
For the record, in 2004, two Belgians pulled off the surprising feat of winning the men's doubles title at Roland-Garros. Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus won the most prestigious of clay-court tournaments regardless of the fact that they were only playing together for the second time ever. The Belgian duo of the time won the final 7-5 against the French pairing, Llodra and Santoro.
Belgian Dick Norman also reached the final of the French Open tennis tournament in 2009, but lost to South Africa's Wesley Moodie. More recently, Elise Mertens has performed extremely well in women's doubles, to the point of becoming world No.1. She's already won every Grand Slam title except... Roland-Garros!