Caroline Garcia’s impressive second half of 2017 arguably reached its peak on Saturday, with the Frenchwoman battling from a set down to beat Ashleigh Barty and claim her first WTA title since June last year at the Wuhan Open.
In the first meeting between the two it was Garcia who got off to the brighter start, though it was Barty who took the first set in a tiebreak despite being a break down twice. The Australian was three times a break up in the second set and twice served for the match, though the Frenchwoman fought back to take a second set tiebreak and was superb in the final set, dropping just two games as she prevailed 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 after a captivating two hours and 43 minutes to win the first Premier 5 title of her career.
It was undoubtedly a hugely disappointing end result for Barty, who came so close to sealing victory, though the Australian has still had a stellar, with her first three top-ten wins and a new career-high ranking of 23rd coming on Monday. It has naturally also been a stellar week for Garcia, who is now part of only a handful of women to have won over 40 matches this year and will be ranked at a career-high 15th in the rankings on Monday; she is now likely to qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy.
Garcia battles back to seal biggest career triumph
This was undoubtedly one of the more surprising finals this year, with neither women seeded at one of the biggest tournaments of the WTA, though the two produced an enthralling final to cap off what has been a surprising week in Wuhan.
Garcia got off to a good start, breaking Barty early on, and the Australian was struggling to break through on her opponent’s serve in the early stages. However, Barty held her nerve, holding serve herself and then breaking when the French served for the opening set. After being broken for the second time, Barty was able to break when Garcia had a second crack at serving for the opening set and took control of the tiebreak to steal the first set.
Following a strong end to the opening set, Barty broke early in the second to put herself firmly in charge of the final, with Garcia coming from a tough third game to avoid falling a double break down. The Frenchwoman was able to break back, later on, to even things up at 4-4, though Barty broke to serve for the match. However, the Australian allowed Garcia to break back, and after breaking once again failed to serve out the match. Having somehow forced a tiebreak, Garcia secured an early mini-break and held firm to take the match to a decider.
With both women arguably missing opportunities to have already won the title, there was a lot of interest heading into the decider. It was Garcia who started brightly, breaking early on and consolidating to put herself just three games away from the biggest title of her career. By now Barty’s level had dropped, with the Australian unable to create a single break point in the decider, and when Garcia broke for the second time the result seemed inevitable. Serving for the match, Garcia showed no serves, comfortably sealing a fine week for her with a fourth career title.