2019-12-18 – The Hungarian-French pair won the Player’s Award at the WTA Tour.
Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic have been named 2019 ITF World Champions in women’s doubles after the Hungarian-French pairing produced a hugely successful and consistent campaign.
The duo’s season was underpinned by their triumph at Roland Garros in June – their second Grand Slam title as a partnership following their victory at the Australian Open in 2018.
“It is an honour to be named ITF World Champions, and the fact that I can share it with Kiki makes the honour extra special,” said Babos. “We have said it multiple times but I can only repeat myself: the bond we share has helped us a tremendous amount this year and it is the secret to our doubles. We had a very good year but both of us believe that we can do even better. Thank you to everybody who supported us this year, it means the world to us. I am really happy and humbled to be honest, this honour crowns our year!”
Mladenovic echoed her close friend’s sentiments.
“It’s a privileged position to be standing at,” said the Frenchwoman, who was also named World Champion alongside Caroline Garcia in 2016. “I am delighted to be world champion alongside my best friend Timea. It closes out a memorable season for us!”
Seeded second at Roland Garros, Babos and Mladenovic navigated the field in style and lifted silverware courtesy of a convincing defeat of China’s Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai in the final.
Australia’s Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai of China were dispatched in the quarter-finals, which proved a modicum of revenge as they were the pair that halted Babos and Mladenovic’s title charge in Melbourne in January.
Babos and Mladenovic had progressed to the final, losing just a solitary set in the process, but found the unseeded Stosur and Zhang an obdurate duo who topped the podium following a 6-3 6-4 success.
There would be no other Grand Slam joy for the Babos-Mladenovic axis post-Roland Garros, although they did go deep and reach the business end of both Wimbledon and the US Open.
Despite being the top seeds, Babos and Mladenovic exited Wimbledon after suffering a straight-sets defeat to eventual champions Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova in the semi-finals.
A victory charge appeared in the offing at the US Open also, although Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Australia’s Ashleigh Barty put paid to that ambition in the semi-finals.
But further silverware was still forthcoming and Babos and Mladenovic ended their campaign in style by winning the doubles title at the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
It was the first time in 11 years, since Australian duo Lisa Raymond and Stosur in 2006, that any pair had successfully defended their title. For Babos, it was a third successive triumph at the event having prevailed alongside Czech Republic’s Andrea Hlavackova in 2017.
Babos and Mladenovic went undefeated in Shenzhen and demonstrated considerable resolve to stoically win three decisive tiebreaks, including during a thriller of a semi-final against Stosur and Zhang.
That paved the way for a showdown with Hsieh and Strycova in the final, only this time there was no repeat of their Wimbledon showing and Babos and Mladenovic duly triumphed.
Mladenovic, who played a starring role as France defeated Australia in November’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final, finished No. 2 in the year-end rankings, while Babos finished third.