Tennis: Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia wins the Masters and ends an exceptional year in style

Tennis: Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia wins the Masters and ends an exceptional year in style

The 29-year-old Lyonnaise, who beat Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (N.7) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 in the final, will end the season in 4th place in the world. A ranking that she had already reached in 2018, before living four difficult years, between crisis of confidence, tennis in distress and recurring physical concerns, which made her sink to 74th place at the very end of last year.

Arrived in Texas ten days ago, in relative uncertainty, after the unexpected departure of coach Bertrand Perret, “Caro” found the mental resources – and physical, the legs are heavy at the end of the year – to win the 11th title of his career, further validating his return to the heights of world tennis.

“I had to accept the situation and focus on the present moment. But I knew that my game was there”, she underlined after her victory in the semi-final against the Greek Maria Sakkari, determined to keep only the best of this fruitful collaboration with Perret. She succeeded brilliantly.

Imperial serving

By becoming his coach barely eleven months ago, succeeding his father Louis-Paul who had held this position for ten years, Perret endeavored to consolidate “Caro” in his identity as an attacking game, by pushing her to play more forward, to attack the ball earlier, to position themselves inside the court on the return and to attack the net without fear.

All key factors in his success from the second half, in the wake of a doubles victory at Roland Garros with Kristina Mladenovic, their second after 2016. Titles in Bad Homburg, Warsaw and Cincinnati followed in of a flamboyant summer concluded with a semi-final at the US Open.

Faced with Sabalenka, who was also hoping to win an 11th title at 24, after her sizeable performance in the semi-finals at the expense of world No.1 Iga Swiatek, Garcia was disarmingly solid, especially in service, not leaving not the slightest opportunity to break her rival.

A battle rarely exceeding four strokes per rally ensued, with both players maintaining their face-off with authority. The decision was made during the decisive game: if the Frenchwoman continued to excel on her serve (68% of first serves passed) with a 10th ace, Sabalenka ended up cracking by committing two double faults, including the one that offered the sleeve to its rival.

Whereupon, the Belarusian went to the locker room for a few minutes. This did not prevent him from being broken at the start of the second round (2-0), on the very first opportunity of the Frenchwoman. It will be the only time of the match.

in weightlessness

Because Garcia remained intractable on her commitment, even when Sabalenka, more and more frustrated – the racket several times thrown to the ground paid the price – let go of her blows. To lead 5-3 she was able to pull off a welcome ace, the only one in this set. Her evening 11s total 394 this year, she will have been the most prolific this season on the circuit.

Garcia, who was two points from elimination from the group stage, during her match finally won against the Russian Daria Kasatkina (N.8) was not going to crack this time. At the last change, she relaxed, talked to herself, took a deep breath with her eyes closed.

On her second match point, the good one, she collapsed with joy, hands on her face, before going to kiss her family. Almost weightless.

Third Tricolor to reach this stage of the prestigious event, she can above all boast of joining Amélie Mauresmo on the list of winners, who had triumphed at the expense of Mary Pierce seventeen years earlier, in a 100% tricolor final of another time.

Three months later, in a euphoria that still hadn’t subsided, she offered herself the Australian Open. And if “Caro” followed this example to bring France a first Major title since that of Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon in 2013?


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