Top 5 WTA Surprises of 2017: #2 - Caroline Garcia's incredible Asian Swing

Starting this week, VAVEL USA’s Don Han will be counting down the top 5 biggest WTA surprises of 2017. Number two: Caroline Garcia's impressive results throughout the Asian Swing which saw her claim titles in Beijing and Wuhan before making her debut at the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Top 5 WTA Surprises of 2017: #2 - Caroline Garcia's incredible Asian Swing
Caroline Garcia's Asian Swing has been one of the bests in recent years | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac

The 2017 WTA season had been full of upsets and shocks — and it is hard not to mention Caroline Garcia’s unbelievable Asian Swing as one of the biggest surprises of the year. Having never entered the top-20 in the rankings before June 2017, the Frenchwoman was labeled as one of the most improved players of the season after a late-season surge which witnessed her coming out of nowhere and stormed into the top-10 within just two weeks.

Struggles throughout the early stages of the year

Garcia’s first half of the year was only highlighted by a semifinal run at the Monterrey Open before making her first appearance in the second week of a Grand Slam at her home tournament, the 2017 French Open. She earned a couple of good wins there, but generally, her results haven't been particularly impressive especially for a player of Garcia’s caliber. Her season undergone a huge turning point during the Asian Swing, where she amassed a total of 2625 ranking points over just four tournaments played, compared to earning just 1760 points from the rest of the year.

Caroline Garcia in action during her upset win over Angelique Kerber | Photo: Wang He/Getty Images AsiaPac
Caroline Garcia in action during her upset win over Angelique Kerber | Photo: Wang He/Getty Images AsiaPac

Turning Point

After falling to Petra Kvitova in the third round of the US Open, Garcia entered the Asian Swing ranked 20th and not having many expectations. A decent run to the quarterfinals falling to world number one Garbine Muguruza at the Toray Pan Pacific Open kicked off her miraculous stretch of results. The results which followed were not just decent, but fantastic.

First success: Wuhan Open

Going into the Wuhan Open unseeded, Garcia was handed an extremely tough draw as she had to face former world number one Angelique Kerber in the opening round. Kerber had just recently found her form in Tokyo, but the Frenchwoman produced a solid serving performance to oust the two-time Grand Slam champion in three tough sets.

Garcia then followed it up with impressive wins over top-10 player Dominika Cibulkova and the in-form Ekaterina Makarova, before downing qualifier Maria Sakkari in the semifinals to make the biggest final of her career. Despite trailing by a set and a break, Garcia overcame a huge deficit and defeated Ashleigh Barty in the final for her first title of the year. This win also propelled her into the top-15 for the first time in her career.

Caroline Garcia celebrates winning the Wuhan Open | Photo: Yifan Ding/Getty Images AsiaPac
Caroline Garcia celebrates winning the Wuhan Open | Photo: Yifan Ding/Getty Images AsiaPac

Following up her success: Beijing triumph

Getting off to a slow start at the China Open after claiming the title in Wuhan, Garcia felt the effects of fatigue but still managed to defeat Elise Mertens 7-6, 6-4 in a tough opening-round match. The Frenchwoman outclassed compatriot Alize Cornet without facing many problems, before triumphing over world number three Elina Svitolina in a match which was labeled by WTA as the Match of the Year, saving a match point along the way.

Facing the 12th seed Petra Kvitova, Garcia earned the win in straight sets for a second consecutive final. Grabbing her third top-10 win in a fortnight, the unseeded 15th-ranked player caused a huge upset with an excellent win over the new world number one Simona Halep, grabbing her first-ever Premier Mandatory title and also sealed her debut in the top-10, rising a total of 10 spots from three weeks ago.

Caroline Garcia falls to the ground after triumphing in Beijing | Photo: Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images AsiaPac
Caroline Garcia falls to the ground after triumphing in Beijing | Photo: Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images AsiaPac

Singapore glory

Coming out of nowhere to qualify for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career, Garcia earned two wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina respectively in her Round Robin group, and therefore reaching the semifinals on her debut. Taking the first set against Venus Williams, she looked on poised to book her place in the final but she was unable to fend off the American’s solid serving, ultimately falling in three tight sets.

Incredible rise in just a month

Garcia, from being ranked 20th on 25th September, made her unexpected top-10 debut just a mere two weeks later after winning the two biggest titles of her career. On both occasions, the Frenchwoman was unseeded and unheralded, causing one of the biggest surprises throughout the year. Little did anyone expect Garcia to produce some world-class tennis and commence her last-minute fight for the last spot at the WTA Finals, and eventually reaching the semifinals there! Surely, Garcia’s rise has been one of the most surprising stories to emerge throughout the year.

Caroline Garcia's impressive Asian Swing ended with a semifinal appearance in Singapore | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images AsiaPac
Caroline Garcia's impressive Asian Swing ended with a semifinal appearance in Singapore | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images AsiaPac