Caroline Garcia dominates Aryna Sabalenka and wins the Masters

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Caroline Garcia dominates Aryna Sabalenka and wins the Masters

Here she is on the roof of a world which, perhaps soon, will belong to her. Before trying to climb other, even more dizzying peaks, Caroline Garcia can savor the crown that now adorns her hair. Seventeen years after Amélie Mauresmo, she is the second Frenchwoman in history to win the Masters. On the night of Monday to Tuesday, in Fort Worth, the 29-year-old player overcame Aryna Sabalenka (7-6 [4]6-4) after a grueling and spectacular punching duel.

In front of finally filled stands, after a disputed start to the tournament in a disappointing atmosphere almost behind closed doors, the start was marked by the violence of the strikes of the two players. “I wonder how many rallies we’ll see over nine strikes”, wondered the American Pam Shriver, ex 3rd in the world, before the game. With a wet finger, they were counted on the fingers of one hand.

No break point in the first set

It must be said that the French like the Belarusian, known for their aggressive game, less for the lace, were not there to caress the ball, rather to crush it. Serves slammed, backhands flew and forehands punished. When Garcia followed his net attacks to hit slammed or drop volleys, Sabalenka tormented his opponent from the back of the court. Two profiles of attackers, one consequence: a game in two, three strikes.

Between the leader of the aces ranking this season – Garcia (383 before this match) – and the leader of the said ranking during this tournament – Sabalenka (18 before this match) – the break points were long in coming: none on the horizon on the whole of the first inning.

Imperial in service (68% of first serves and 10 aces in the first set), the Lyonnaise nevertheless had opportunities against the low percentage of first serves of the 7th in the world (43% in the first set). But as always very advanced in the field on the return, she was more than once surprised by the power and the zones found by the Belarusian on her second engagements.

Garcia steps back slightly on return

At 6-5 in his favor, Garcia decided to retreat very slightly on the return, in first as in second. The result was not long in coming since in the tie-break, despite a first successful mini-break by Sabalenka, the Frenchwoman scored almost as many points on the restart (four) as on the rest of the round (seven). More under pressure, the Belarusian cracked and committed two double faults, at 4-2 then 6-4 in favor of Garcia who pocketed the first set with forceps.

On his way, Garcia got the first break points of the second set entry match. A sumptuous winning forehand return along the line allowed him to steal the engagement of the Belarusian, suddenly caught up in the stakes. In confidence, the 6th in the world (who is about to move up to 4th) gave up only five points in her next four service games.

At the time of conclusion, at 5-4 on his serve, Garcia suffered the heaviness of the strikes imposed by Sabalenka who was playing his all. The Belarusian saved a first match point from a superb long backhand winner. The Frenchwoman immediately got a second from a service winner. In the aftermath, a forehand fault gave Garcia the most beautiful coronation of his career.


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