Tennis: Fantastic fortnight for Garcia

Caroline Garcia is all pumped up during her China Open final win over new world No. 1 Simona Halep in Beijing. She has broken into the top 10 and also edged ahead of Johanna Konta in the Race to Singapore but has to play former No. 1 Maria Sharapova
Caroline Garcia is all pumped up during her China Open final win over new world No. 1 Simona Halep in Beijing. She has broken into the top 10 and also edged ahead of Johanna Konta in the Race to Singapore but has to play former No. 1 Maria Sharapova in her Tianjin opener today.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

After 2 titles in China, she guns for final WTA Finals spot

BEIJING • Unseeded Caroline Garcia of France yesterday won the biggest singles title of her career with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) victory over soon-to-be world No. 1 Simona Halep in the China Open final and kept her WTA Finals bid alive.

She extended her winning streak to 11 matches and added to her Wuhan Open triumph last week, becoming the first player to complete the Wuhan and Beijing double.

She is on track to qualify for the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, as yesterday's title victory took her past Briton Johanna Konta to eighth in the Porsche Race to Singapore rankings.

She will attempt to cement the final berth for the Oct 22-29 showpiece at this week's Tianjin Open, where she will face Russian Maria Sharapova in the round of 32 today.

The 23-year-old sank to her knees on the Beijing hard court when she finally sealed victory.

"I was like, seriously, this really happened?" she said afterwards. "It was such an amazing two weeks, it went so fast, I have the feeling I started these tournaments yesterday or two days ago.

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  • Match-winning streak of Caroline Garcia that saw her land titles in consecutive weeks in China.

"To play every single day, it was just after every match you had to forget about what happened and be on the present again.

"Even this morning I couldn't believe I was in the final."

Her feat was all the more remarkable because she was carrying a leg injury that has required frequent on-court treatment and completed a mammoth three-set quarter-final win well past midnight on Friday evening.

The world No. 15 will climb to ninth in the rankings today, marking her Top 10 debut, while Halep will displace Spaniard Garbine Muguruza as the No. 1.

The Romanian admitted that she was too excited to sleep after securing top spot on Saturday and said it affected her final performance.

But she refused to let her defeat spoil her week and conceded that it had been an emotional 24 hours, during which the tennis community united to congratulate her.

"I couldn't sleep very well," she said. "In the morning, I was like, okay, now I have to focus again, to go on court and work, which I did.

"It was very good (getting to the top ranking). It was a very good step, important step. But still inside I was too happy.

"It was too much yesterday. My body was just sore after yesterday's match. Even if was not three sets or something like that, I just felt a little bit over inside because of the happiness."

She broke Garcia's serve in the first game of the match but the 23-year-old hit back immediately, breaking twice to win the first set.

With the score tied at 3-3 in the second set, the Frenchwoman saved nine consecutive break points in the seventh game, before taking a 4-3 lead but Halep recovered to force a tie-break.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2017, with the headline 'Fantastic fortnight for Garcia'. Print Edition | Subscribe