The smiles, the tears, the hug with his clan, Bertrand Perret, his coach, and Laura Legoupil, his physiotherapist. But behind all this, this feeling now anchored, reinforced in a brilliant way on Sunday, that Caroline Garcia is back at the highest level and can dream very big, again, a week before the US Open.
Sunday, in Cincinnati, the French won her 10th career title, her third WTA 1000, five years after the first two conquered during an ecstatic Chinese autumn 2017, in Wuhan then Beijing. She disposed in two sets and logically of Petra Kvitova (6-2, 6-4), without ever conceding her service.
At the end of an admirable adventure in Ohio, the Frenchwoman, who won eight matches in nine days, thus becoming the first player to grab a WTA 1000 after qualifying, is in the process of turning everything upside down, turning everything upside down. Inevitably hopes now will gallop very quickly, as New York looms and Garcia recites her game with a mastery and conviction she may never have had in the past. “It’s been such a week. It’s hard to believe I’m here today with the trophy. The path has been crazy the last few weeks”, recognized the Lyonnaise, radiant, on the court, and who has just piled up 26 victories since June 7. No one has done better.
A winner’s body language
Beyond the staggering figures investigated by Caroline Garcia for two months, it is the attitude, the posture now displayed at each of her outings by the Frenchwoman who illuminates the horizon of a new ambition. At 28, Garcia, who clung to 74th place in the world at the start of January, enters the court today with a precisely identified game, pegged convictions and known and mastered patterns.
For the past three seasons, Caroline Garcia has displayed her weaknesses. His questions, his doubts, his frustrations were often visible to everyone. This is no longer the case. The Frenchwoman has the body language of a winner and a posture of a conqueror.
Under the leadership of Bertrand Perret, who has accompanied him since the end of last year, Garcia has further raised the offensive cursor. His serve is now more impactful and varied. Petra Kvitova struggled to read it throughout the game. With 11 aces and 82% of points behind her first ball, the Lyonnaise got out of the most perilous situations every time on Sunday with one or two racquet shots behind her face-off.
In return, it’s the same blitz. Systematically planted in the court on her recovery games, Garcia puts infernal pressure on the opposing waitress. And Kvitova was immediately drowned in the first set with two double faults on her first service game, abandoned at the start of the game!
Eight break points saved out of eight by Caroline Garcia
Even when the Czech, former Grand Slam winner (Wimbledon 2011 and 2014), put Garcia on the back foot, challenging the exchange, with in particular her powerful left-handed forehand, the former world No. not. On the wire, the Frenchwoman kept her balance, released an ace, a winning service, a sharp blow. She thus saved with remarkable composure the eight break points she had to play, including three in a row at 3-2, 0-40, with two aces and a big backhand slice defense!
It was a key moment, certainly the best opportunity for the Czech, manipulated in the left thigh at 0-2 at the start of the second set, to pick up, to reverse the momentum. But Garcia slammed the door in his face, with implacable authority. Kvitova had been close in this second set, but Garcia had been able to play the decisive points without ever shaking. Like this last service game signed with two aces!
17th in the world on Monday and outsider posted at the US Open
This tenth career title undoubtedly validates Caroline Garcia’s act of rebirth. This third trophy of the season, on a different surface, after Bad Hombourg (grass) and Warsaw (clay), allows the French to appear Monday in 17th place in the world rankings. She had not been seen so high since October 2018! One week before the US Open, the story is beautiful and full of promise. In a female hierarchy that Iga Swiatek no longer dominates as ferociously as last spring, Garcia is undoubtedly now on the list of outsiders to the title in New York. At the end of May, after almost two months without playing to treat a painful right foot, she was 79th in the world and no one had imagined that less than three months later…
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