Here he is on the roof of a world that, perhaps soon, will belong to him. Before attempting to scale even more dizzying peaks, Caroline Garcia can savor the crown that now adorns her hair. Seventeen years after Amélie Mauresmo, she is the second Frenchwoman in history to win the Masters. On the night of Monday to Tuesday, in Fort Worth, the 29-year-old player beat Aryna Sabalenka (7-6 6-4) after an exhausting and spectacular duel of blows.
Before finally full stands, after a disputed start to the tournament in a disappointing atmosphere of almost closed doors, the start was marked by the violence of the blows of the two players. “I wonder how many rallies we’ll see in nine strikes?”, wondered the American Pam Shriver, former 3rd in the world, before the match. With a wet finger, she counted them on the fingers of one hand.
No break point in the first set
It must be said that the French like the Belarusian, known for their aggressive game, except for the lace, were not there to caress the ball, but to crush it. Serves hit, backhand flown and forehand punished. As Garcia followed up his net attacks to hit slaps or volleys, Sabalenka martyred his opponent from the baseline. Two attacking profiles, one consequence: one game in two, three strikes.
Between the leader of the ace ranking this season – Garcia (383 before this match) – and the leader of said ranking during this tournament – Sabalenka (18 before this match) – the break points were a long time coming: none on the horizon throughout the first inning.
Imperial in the service (68% of first services and 10 aces in the first set), the Lyonnaise however had opportunities before the low percentage of first services of the 7th in the world (43% in the first set). But as always very advanced in the field on the lap, more than once she was surprised by the power and the areas that the Belarusian found in her second commitments.
Garcia backs off a bit when returning
With the 6-5 in his favor, García decided to go back very slightly on the lap, both in first and second. The result was immediate as in the tie-break, despite a successful first mini-break by Sabalenka, the Frenchwoman scored almost as many points after the restart (four) as in the rest of the day (seven). Under more pressure, the Belarusian cracked and committed two double faults, at 4-2 and then at 6-4 in favor of Garcia who took the first set with forceps.
On his way, Garcia landed the first break points of the match entering the second set. A sumptuous forehand return winner along the line allowed him to steal the Belarusian’s engagement at his first opportunity. Confidently, the world’s sixth-placed, now fourth-placed, gave up just five points in her next four service games.
At the moment of the conclusion, with a 5-4 serve, García suffered the heaviness of the blows imposed by Sabalenka who played to the maximum. The Belarusian saved a first match point from a superb long backhand winner. The Frenchwoman immediately earned a second of a service winner. Later, a right hand foul gave Garcia the most beautiful coronation of his career.
“I think of everyone I’ve met on my journey who has helped me become a better person and a better player.threw the French No. 1 into the microphone. Lots of aces, few rallies, but I hope you guys enjoyed it! »