Rafael Nadal wasn’t the only one breaking records at Roland-Garros this weekend.
Jean-Julien Rojer and Marcelo Arevalo – doubles partners with South Florida links – each made history by winning the French Open men’s doubles championship beating Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Austin Krajicek of the United States 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in the final.
Rojer, 40, a graduate of Miami Killian High based in Brickell Key, became the oldest Grand Slam men’s doubles champion of the Open era. He also won the 2015 Wimbledon doubles title and the 2017 US Open doubles title with former partner Horia Tecau.
Arevalo, 31, hails from El Salvador and became Central America’s first Grand Slam champion. With a world doubles ranking of No. 14, he is the highest-ranked Salvadoran player in history. He and Rojer, who do their offseason training in Miami, teamed up this season and are 24-10.
They won titles in Delray Beach and Dallas earlier this season and reached the final in Acapulco.
They saved three championship points to claim the second set against Dodig and Krajicek and took command of the third set to seal the historic win.
“I’m really proud of that,” Rojer said of his milestone at the awards ceremony. “I know I’m getting older, and that makes those moments even more special, because you don’t know how many times you have left to play on such a beautiful pitch at those beautiful tournaments – I’m so grateful.”
He held his one-year-old son in his arms during the post-match celebration.
“I really want to thank my partner,” Rojer said, fighting back tears. “We spend a lot of time together living and training in Miami. We decided to play together. I know this kid has a big heart, he showed it. I’m so happy and proud of this moment.
Rojer is originally from Curacao and moved to South Florida when he was 14 to train. He won back-to-back state titles at Killian in his second and second seasons in 1997 and 1998, then enrolled at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton. Rojer then played at UCLA, where he was an All-American.
He trained in Miami with his longtime friend and former University of Miami player Luis Manrique.
Arevalo reached world No. 8 as a junior and is the younger brother of former Tour player Rafael Arevalo.
“I’m so proud that each of you is staying for the final,” Arevalo told the crowd. “You made our moment precious – thank you Paris and thank you Roland-Garros.”
During the trophy ceremony, the Salvadoran credited his wife for his success.
“I think she believed it more than me,” he said. “At one point she was always telling me ‘You’re going to win a Grand Slam’. I thought she was saying that because she liked me and I was her husband. Thank you so much for trusting me until the end, since we knew each other, I always played the lowest tournaments and you always believed in me – I love you so much.
Mike Kypriss, Rojer’s coach at Miami Killian High, has remained in close contact with his former player over the years. Rojer trained with Kypriss after high school and lived with Kypriss and his wife, Sheri. He was overjoyed watching the Roland-Garros championship match. He said the win was particularly gratifying for Rojer after he had to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics when he tested positive for COVID.
“It’s such a great story, for Julien and Marcelo,” Kypriss said by phone Monday. “Julien was so low after those Olympics, so I can’t tell you how proud I was, as a former coach, to see him win that Roland-Garros title. It’s a great story of Miami, a kid who went to Killian and still has a home here, making tennis history, and Marcelo being the first Central American to win a Grand Slam title.
“Everyone in Miami tennis circles is talking about two things this morning: Nadal’s win and Julien and Marcelo’s doubles title. It’s very special.