Caroline Garcia came into the match riding on a semifinal finish in Dubai. She met qualifier and doubles specialist, Elena Vesnina, in the first round, who holds a 1-0 head-to-head over the Frenchwoman. That win however dates all the way back to 2013, and the pair are now almost more than 80 ranks apart.
Both started brightly before Vesnina emerged the stronger player towards the end to get away with the first set. A late fight back from Garcia followed but it was not enough as the 118th ranked Russian completed an impressive 6-3, 7-5 win.
Good Start From Both Players Before Garcia Falters
Both players started well to hold serves with Vesnina saving a break point she faced in her first service game. Both were putting in a lot of their first serves in and they were rarely troubled, but it was the Russian who got the first breakthrough in the seventh game, latching on to a break point presented to her as Garcia sent her forehand long. Vesnina coolly consolidated the break with a comfortable hold to 5-3.
In a must win service game, the Frenchwoman faltered, handing Vesnina triple set points. Garcia saved two of them with some great play but could only watch as her forehand sailed long, allowing the Russian to grab the first set in 34 minutes.
Vesnina Races To The Lead And A Late Fight Back From Garcia Is Not Enough
Garcia started the more aggressive of the two, looking to find any opportunities to break her opponent's service games, but Vesnina stood tough, saving one break point in the process of a 2-1. The Russian was hitting her shots with such depth that it was troubling Garcia on many occasions. Vesnina got a look at the Frenchwoman's serve setting up another break point with a fine forehand return winner but Garcia was unable to save the break point as Vesnina broke and rushed to a 4-1 lead.
At the sit down, Garcia was emotional and teary-eyed, but it seemed to have triggered her fighting spirit. She went on to win the next three games in some style to level the set at 4-4. Vesnina's first serves percentage started dropping but she managed to stop the rot with a love hold to edge 5-4. Both women held their serves with bit more ease, and it looked like it was heading to a tiebreak.
With the score at 6-5, pressure was once again on Garcia to hold her service game. Vesnina got on the attack and won herself match point but the Frenchwoman was not going down without a fight, saving it superbly. However, Garcia missed the easiest of volley at the net at the next point presenting the Russian with another match point. The Frenchwoman sent her forehand wide in the ensuing rally as Vesnina completed an impressive victory.
Vesnina will next take on the second seed, Simona Halep, in the second round.
Both players had a good percentage of first serves in, Garcia with 67 and Vesnina with 61. The difference was that the Russian was able to win more of those at 79 percent, whereas Garcia managed to win 67 percent of her first serves.
Vesnina created more opportunities to break and capitalized four out of the eight created. With the Russian playing solid service games, Garcia only had four chances and just converted the one in the second set.