It has been a topsy-turvy 2017 for Caroline Garcia, who had a poor start to the year before producing some incredible tennis towards the end of the year for a top-10 debut and a spot at the prestigious year-ending championships in Singapore. The Frenchwoman also produced one of the biggest surprises this year with her impressive Asian Swing, claiming two of the biggest titles in her career.
Garcia owns a 48-22 (.686) win-loss record throughout the year and has earned an impressive five top-10 wins, her best record in any calendar year of her career. The Frenchwoman reached a decent 10 quarterfinals (including Singapore's semifinal result) in 2017 but lost to players of a lower ranking on nine different occasions. Two of her defeats also came against players outside the top-130 of the rankings.
Garcia’s first quarterfinal appearance only came in April — at the Monterrey Open. She produced some excellent performances and strolled to the semifinals, where she went up against second seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. However, the eventual champion proved to be too strong and ultimately handed Garcia a straight-sets loss.
A week before the French Open, Garcia entered the Internationaux de Strasbourg, which was held in her home country as well. It gave her the perfect lead-up to the second Major of the year, reaching the semifinals without losing a set, falling to Daria Gavrilova. Despite the loss, it proved to be a wise choice to participate in Strasbourg as Garcia went on to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career, defeating compatriot Alize Cornet in the process but fell to Karolina Pliskova in the last eight.
Having achieved success on grass in the previous years, 2017 wasn’t an exception as Garcia reached the semifinals of the Mallorca Open, where she was the defending champion. Defeating Jelena Jankovic and Roberta Vinci along the way, the Frenchwoman fell to eventual champion Anastasija Sevastova in a one-sided encounter. Carrying the momentum into Wimbledon, Garcia made her debut in the second week without losing a set but fell in a thriller to home favorite Johanna Konta.
Nonetheless, clay still seemed to be Garcia’s best surface as she went on to reach the last four in Bastad, falling short to yet another eventual champion, the in-form Katerina Siniakova. The 24 year-old also defeated former world number five and 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1 in the second round.
A second consecutive quarterfinal appearance ensued, with Garcia setting up a meeting with Simona Halep at the Rogers Cup. After a tight first set which saw the Frenchwoman lead 4-3, she went on to only win two more games throughout the remainder of the match as she ultimately lost in straight sets.
Moving onto the Asian Swing, Garcia managed to make an incredible change to her season. It first started off with a decent run to the last eight in Tokyo where she lost to world number one Garbine Muguruza but her performance was still not convincing enough for pundits to be able to predict her upcoming results. However, what she did after was unbelievable.
Garcia came out of nowhere and played some incredible tennis, claiming two of her biggest titles in her career consecutively in two weeks, and even achieved that while being unseeded at both the Wuhan Open and China Open. Her run all started with a confidence-boosting three-set win over former world number one Angelique Kerber, and the Frenchwoman went on to claim her first top-10 win of the season against Dominika Cibulkova. Defeating surprise semifinalist Maria Sakkari, Garcia completed her dream tournament by ousting Ashleigh Barty despite being at the brink of defeat on multiple occasions.
In Beijing, she received a bye due to her triumph in Wuhan, which allowed her to get a later start to the tournament. It proved to be extremely helpful as Garcia continued to ride on her momentum, defeating compatriot Alize Cornet with the loss of just three games before saving a match point against world number three Elina Svitolina to triumph in what was listed as the “WTA Match of the Year”. Garcia’s impressive run did not seem to be coming to a halt when she ousted fellow hard-hitter Petra Kvitova in straight sets, sealing the incredible two weeks with a straight-sets win over newly-crowned number one Simona Halep in the final, and thus sealing her place at the WTA Finals.
Making her Singapore debut, Garcia was drawn in the same group with defensive players. Her campaign started off on the worst possible note, losing to the top-ranked Halep in straight sets but yet again prevailed in a tight affair against Svitolina, triumphing 7-5 in the deciding set. Recovering from a bagel loss, the world number eight reflected her tough mentality in a spirited performance against the invincible eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki, claiming the 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 win to seal her spot as the group winner. Facing Venus Williams in the last four, Garcia was unable to find the breakthrough on the return and ultimately fell in three sets to end her magical run which all started in Wuhan. Nonetheless, it was the perfect end to the year which Garcia herself also wouldn’t expect to have.
Garcia had a slow start to the year as an injury prevented her from competing in the opening two weeks of the season, causing her to enter the Australian Open without any match practice. It ultimately proved to be costly as she fell in the third round to Barbora Strycova, coming up short in straight sets. Garcia entered the Taiwan Open in hope of regaining her form, but things only went downhill from there as she shockingly crashed out in the second round after being beaten by world number 93 Mandy Minella. Early losses soon ensued in Doha and Dubai, before she was given a favorable draw to produce a good run at the Malaysian Open especially after being the third seed. However, more disappointment followed when Russian talent Anna Kalinskaya defied the odds in straight sets.
Although Garcia finally produced her first excellent result of the year with an impressive three-set win against Johanna Konta, she ultimately put in a flat performance in the fourth round against eventual finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova at the BNP Paribas Open. Garcia was then totally outclassed by Peng Shuai in the opening round of the Miami Open, falling 4-6, 0-6. Within the first three months of the year, Garcia only managed to amass a 7-7 win-loss record.
Garcia had an extremely poor start to the clay-court season, ironically. She went on to claim further success but she faced a surprising loss to qualifier Wang Qiang at the Mutua Madrid Open. Clay seemed to be a challenging surface for the Frenchwoman after she was made to work hard for her first win against Donna Vekic before being handed yet another loss by Daria Gavrilova in Rome.
After a series of impressive results, Garcia, being the 20th-ranked player and the top seed in Gstaad, was shocked by Tereza Martincova 5-7, 6-7 in the second round. Martincova went on to reach the last four, highlighting how Garcia could have progressed far if she were playing her best tennis.
Her fourth and last first-round exit of the year came at the Western and Southern Open. Garcia was part of a blockbuster match against fellow top-20 player Elena Vesnina but failed to take advantage of her opportunities as she lost a 4-2 lead in the deciding set only to see the Russian take the win ultimately. Furthermore, her US Open Series came to an end with a third-round exit at Flushing Meadows, losing to eventual quarterfinalist Petra Kvitova in a one-sided match.
Season Grade: A-
Although Garcia had a slow start to the year, the Frenchwoman slowly regained her form mid-season and her hardwork eventually reflected in her results as she produced some consistency in her game, elevating her to the world’s top-10 for the first time in her career. It has been an eventful journey for Garcia, qualifying for her first WTA Finals before reaching the semifinals there. Hence, she definitely deserves this season grade.