Two of the breakthrough stars of the WTA Tour this season contested arguably the match of the WTA Finals so far on Wednesday, with Caroline Garcia overcoming Elina Svitolina in three tight sets to seal her first ever victory at the season-ending showpiece in Singapore.
Garcia and Svitolina had previously contested an incredibly tight match at the China Open just a few weeks ago, with the Frenchwoman saving a match point as she prevailed in a clash that lasted over three hours, and it was her who took victory once again, fighting from a set down, and then a break down in the second and third sets, to beat the Ukrainian 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 44 minutes; it is Garcia’s first ever win at the event in her debut year, with Svitolina now having lost both matches on her event debut.
With Caroline Wozniacki having secured her place in the last four following a crushing win over Simona Halep earlier today, both Svitolina and Garcia are still in contention to progress from the group. Garcia will need to beat Wozniacki and will need Svitolina to beat Halep to progress, with Svitolina will have to rely on beating Halep in straight sets and Wozniacki beating Garcia; however, if Halep beats Svitolina, she will join Wozniacki in the last four no matter how Garcia fares against the Dane.
Garcia pulls through in high-quality contest
Garcia and Svitolina had both performed extremely well this year, with Svitolina winning five singles titles and Garcia winning ten consecutive matches coming into Singapore, and that confidence showed as both women were able to hit more winners than unforced errors; however, it was the Frenchwoman, who hit a staggering 58 winners, who eventually pulled through.
It could have been a straight sets win for the Frenchwoman, though some carelessness saw her drop the opening set. Garcia broke in the opening game and then broke again at 2-2, though on both occasions Svitolina was able to eventually break back as she held firm in the opener. With both women playing fairly solid tennis a tiebreak eventually ensued and once again Garcia was in front, holding a 4-1 lead, though Svitolina was able to take advantage of some costly mistakes; the Ukrainian saved two set points, and then converted her first to take the breaker 9-7.
Svitolina had ended the first set strongly, and that showed in the early stages of the second as she broke for a 2-1 lead, though it was here Garcia started to fight back. The Frenchwoman immediately broke back, and then started to dictate play as she stormed to a 5-2 lead, putting herself just a game away from a decider. The Ukrainian held to stay in the set and took a commanding 0-40 lead when Garcia was serving for it, though the Frenchwoman fought back and converted her first set point to take the match to a third set.
Just as in the second set, it was the Ukrainian who got an early break, though once again Garcia immediately broke back to restore parity. The middle stages of the decider were undoubtedly nervy, though both women held firm until Svitolina seemed to get what was a crucial break to put her in the position to serve for the match at 5-3. However, Garcia hit four winners to break the Ukrainian, and after holding serve broke for the third time in the set to go a game away; serving for the encounter, she showed very few signs of nerves, taking her first match point to seal a comeback win in Singapore.