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Miyu Kato and Tim Puetz Claim French Open Mixed Doubles Title

The new partners debuted at the French Open, and there was a storybook ending for Kato days after her controversial disqualification in women's doubles.

What a week for Miyu Kato and her tennis-playing partners at the French Open: disappointment and delight, frustration and euphoria.

First, Kato was booted out of the women's doubles competition along with Indonesian partner Aldila Sutjiadi during a third-round match on Sunday, June 4 after Kato accidentally hit a ball girl in the neck with a ball at Roland Garros. Then, four days later, the Japanese player experienced pure joy.

Kato and Tim Puetz of Germany won the French Open mixed doubles title on Thursday, June 8 in Paris, rallying to beat Canada's Bianca Andreescu and New Zealand's Michael Venus 4-6, 6-4 (10-6).

It was the first Grand Slam title for both Kato and Peutz, both of whom are doubles specialists.

The highs and lows of the past few days were highlighted in Kato's post-victory remarks.

"It has been really challenging mentally for me in the past few days due to the unjust disqualification from the women's doubles," Kato said, according to BBC Sport. "To my coach (Adam Lownsbrough), I thank [you] for always being with me when I was having a hard time, [and] to Tim, I'm so glad to have you as a partner, I thank you for always supporting me and cheering me up. I want to thank also the players, coaches and everyone for the heartfelt messages of support."

She added, "I was able to use that positivity so I could be here."

French Open
Miyu Kato and Tim Puetz in action in the French Open mixed doubles final. (KYODO)

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Title-Winning Debut for Pair at French Open

In the match tiebreak, a 6-3 lead for Kato and Puetz proved to be too much for their opponents to overcome en route to victory.

They made their debut as mixed doubles partners at this tournament and clicked right away.

Before dropping their opening set against Andreescu, who collected the 2019 US Open women's singles title, and Venus, Kato and Puetz had won every set in their previous four French Open matches together.

For Puetz, the tournament proved to be a joyride, though his post-match remarks provided some context to the emotional roller coaster his partner experienced in the French capital.

“Miyu, it is unbelievable what has happened in the past 10 days,” Puetz was quoted as saying by The Associated Press after the 95-minute match. “I hope this helps you."

Puetz then said, "I am very, very happy to win.”

Miyu Kato prepares to hit the ball as mixed doubles partner Tim Puetz looks on. (KYODO)

For Kato, the joy of the mixed doubles title clashed with what happened a few days earlier. After the match, she mentioned the ball girl again, the one from her doubles match against the Czech Republic's Marie Bouzkova and Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo.

"I hope the ball girl is OK and I hope we get to play Marie and Sara again," the Kyoto native said on the court and also visited with the ball girl after the match.

Kato Etches Name in French Open Annals

In addition to Kato, Japanese women have won a pair of French Open mixed doubles titles. Rika Hiraki teamed up with India's Mahesh Bhupathi in 1997, while California-born Ena Shibahara and Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof won it in 2022.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.


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