Tennis: Garcia overpowers Barty, storming to Wuhan title

Caroline Garcia celebrates after winning against Maria Sakkari of Greece.
Caroline Garcia celebrates after winning against Maria Sakkari of Greece.PHOTO: AFP

WUHAN, China (AFP) - Caroline Garcia overpowered Australia’s Ashleigh Barty 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 to claim her first Wuhan Open title on Saturday (Sept 30) in a thrilling see-saw final in the Chinese city.

Ranked 20 in the world, Garcia battled her way through two tight sets against Barty before breezing the third to claim the biggest title of her career.

“It was a such a fight all the week and especially today,” the French player said after the match.

“A title is the best thing you can have in tennis, that’s why you fight all year long. I’m over the moon for sure.” Garcia stormed her way into an early lead in the first set but a resilient Barty twice came from a break down to force a tiebreak that she went on to dominate.

The Aussie served for the match twice in the second, while her opponent also had two chances to nab the set before it was forced into another tiebreak.

The third set was simpler for Garcia, who fell to her knees in celebration after Barty fired a return into the net.

“My first serve deserted me a bit but I put myself in a position where I was only a few points away from the final,” said Barty, ranked 37 in the world.

“Disappointing to not come away with it in the end but sometimes it crumbles that way,” she added.

“But it’s still been a hell of a week, probably the best week of my tennis career.” Barty, who began the year ranked outside the top 300, trounced French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko in the semis, seeing off the last seed at a shock-prone Wuhan.

The 21-year-old had already triumphed over former world number one Karolina Pliskova, Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded nine, and Johanna Konta, the fifth seed in a dream run in the Chinese city.

Those victories came in her first full season back after a successful stint with the Brisbane Heat cricket team.

Garcia also toppled her fair share of seeds in the early rounds – including Dominika Cibulkova, seeded seven, and number 12 seed Angelique Kerber – before trouncing Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the semis.

It was the first professional meeting between the pair after 23-year-old Garcia beat Barty on her way to the 2011 US Open Girls’ final.