Middle East

Russian-Israeli tennis player defeated in French Open mixed-doubles final

Russian-Israeli tennis player defeated in French Open mixed-doubles final


Russian-Israeli tennis player Aslan Karatsev and his partner, Russian Elena Vesnina, were defeated in the finals for the mixed doubles title at the French Open by Desirae Krawczyk of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Britain.

Krawczyk and Salisbury beat Karatsev and Vesnina 2-6, 6-4, 10-5. Their win ended Britain’s 39-year wait for a title at Roland Garros. The last British player to lift a trophy in the tournament’s five main events was John Lloyd in the mixed doubles in 1982. He played with Wendy Turnbull of Australia.

Karatsev, who lost in the second round of the men’s tournament, made his breakthrough at the Australian Open, reaching the semifinals as a qualifier. He claimed his first ATP Tour title in Dubai but could not get past German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber at Roland Garros.

Karatsev, 27, was born in the North Caucasus region of Russia. His maternal grandfather is Jewish, and he moved to Israel when he was 3 years old. He left at 12 and said the Israel Tennis Association’s lack of funding was a major factor pushing him to leave. His mother and sister remained in Israel.

Karatsev will be representing Russia in singles at the postponed Olympics due to his ranking, No. 26 in the world as of May, and he reached out to his fellow Russian Vesnina, 34, a women’s doubles champion, about the possibility of competing in the mixed doubles draw.

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Aslan Karatsev celebrates after defeating Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 16, 2021.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

“We spoke before the tournament, like two months ago, and I asked her to try to play mixed with me,” Karatsev said. “I was asking her if she wants to play mixed because it’s a good opportunity to play [in the] Olympics together. She has a good experience. She’s had a great career in the past [and] she continues right now after she stopped for two years.” (Vesnina stepped away from tennis after giving birth to her daughter in November 2018.)

“I was honestly surprised when I saw the message from him,” Vesnina joked. “He texted me in February. He was like, ‘Oh hey, do you want to play mixed with me at the French?’ And I was like, ‘Aslan, it’s only February!’”

Karatsev and Vesnina defeated the third-ranked Dutch team of Demi Schuurs and Wesley Koolhoof, 6-4, 6-1, in the semifinals on Tuesday.

JTA contributed to this report.

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