Japan's Shibahara, Dutchman Koolhof win French Open mixed doubles


Ena Shibahara, right, and Netherlands' Wesley Koolhof hold the cup | AP

Paris: Ena Shibahara and Wesley Koolhof won the French Open mixed doubles title on Thursday after only meeting for the first time on the eve of Roland Garros thanks to a social media message.

The second-seeded pair defeated unseeded Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway and Belgium's Joran Vliegen 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on the back of 26 winners for their first Grand Slam trophy.

Koolhof revealed that he and Shibahara only agreed to play together after he had reached out to her on Instagram.

"Took her a while to respond back!" said the Dutch player.

"But she said yes and she was looking forward to playing. So we actually never met before, I just saw her a few times playing at the Slams and the Masters, so I knew what kind of game she had and thought it would suit me very well.

"So that's why I asked her and very happy she said yes. So, yeah, and this is the crazy result in the end."

Rika Hiraki was the last Japanese woman to take the Paris mixed title with India's Mahesh Bhupathi in 1997.

"I grew up with a family of five and we all kind of played tennis together, and they would played doubles, and I'm the youngest, so I'm always trying to fight for the spot to be the fourth player," said 24-year-old, California-born Shibahara.

"So they would always play mixed doubles and that is basically how I started my tennis."

Eikeri was Norway's first Slam finalist in the Open Era.

Casper Ruud, who was watching from the stands on Court Philippe Chatrier, hopes to become the second when he faces Marin Cilic in the men's singles semi-finals on Friday. AFP

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