Caroline Garcia has continued her remarkable comeback by winning the WTA Finals, the biggest title of her career. The French player defeated Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 with a master class of service in the final of the tournament in Fort Worth.
Garcia was ranked outside the top 70 in mid-June, but has since won four titles and reached the US Open semifinals. The 29-year-old will now end the year as World No.4, matching her career-high ranking that she first achieved in 2018.
“Today was such an intense final,” a smiling Garcia told Tennis Channel while donning a cowboy hat. “I’m very proud of how I was able to keep my mind calm and really focus on one point at a time, one game at a time.”
Thunderous serves from both players went off early and neither faced a break point in the first set of the final of the season-ending tournament in Texas. But in the tie break, Sabalenka’s inconsistent second serve failed her as she produced two double faults at key moments.
Garcia kept the pressure on from there, breaking to open the second set and holding off her opponent on serve, firing 11 aces without facing a break point. Leading 5-4 and serving for the title, Garcia overcame a tense deuce game, falling to the floor when a Sabalenka forehand went wide on match point.
After receiving the Billie Jean King trophy from American tennis great Chris Evert, Garcia had kind words for Sabalenka, who upset World No.1 Iga Swiatek in Sunday’s semifinal and will finish the year in the top five of the classification. .
“You bring so much energy to the court all the time, it’s always a pleasure to see you,” Garcia said on stage, before thinking about his own return to form. “It’s very important to keep improving,” he said. “If you don’t go forward, you go backwards. And that’s not something we want to do on this team.”
“Caro, I really hate you right now, but you played amazing tennis, not just tonight but this year,” Sabalenka said in response. “Congratulations on the results and hopefully we play many more finals.”