WTA Finals – Caroline García in the Masters final: a golden opportunity to fly higher

The context

Midway through the season, who could have predicted such a fate? Certainly not Caroline Garcia herself. Away from the courts for two months (from March to May) due to an injury to her left foot (plantar aponeurosis), eliminated in the 2nd round of Roland-Garros, her recovery tournament, she ranked 75th in the world on 6 of June . The Masters was therefore very far away, but one summer was enough for the Lyonnaise to give a new impetus to her career. From her title on the German grass in Bad Homburg to her first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open and her crowning at the WTA 1000 in Cincinnati, she has amassed 31 wins in 36 matches, more than any other player.

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Repositioned in the World Top 10 coming out of Flushing Meadows for the first time in four years and 5th in the Race, the end-of-season goal was clear: to participate in the Women’s Masters five years after discovering it. The tension then tickled her right arm again, but despite three losses in four matches, her margin over her direct competitors was enough for her to be there. And it is that since the beginning of the competition in Texas, despite a mysterious separation from the coach of his resurgence Bertrand Perret, García has returned to his positive state of mind and his offensive intentions that have paid off so many times in recent months. .

It is true that she qualified for the semifinals in extremis, at the cost of an exciting last match against Daria Kasatkina. But the Frenchwoman is totally committed, even against Iga Swiatek for her second group match, the Pole being untouchable that day. Already in the last four five years ago, therefore, she will discover the final this time because in the middle, she literally scattered Maria Sakkari, not letting the Greek breathe for a single moment.

A reunion with Swiatek, the undisputed and undisputed number 1 in the world, seemed scheduled, but Aryna Sabalenka decided otherwise. Monster of power, she knew how to exploit the decline of the Polish woman who confessed her exhaustion after an exceptional season marked by 8 titles including 2 Grand Slams (Roland-Garros and US Open). Also a US Open semifinalist and barred from Wimbledon due to her nationality, the Belarusian hasn’t won a title this year but she has been consistent enough to make the final cast. She is first and foremost a (big) shot player. On her role, her poster seems well balanced and indecisive.

Face to face

  • Perfect equality between the two players, who have two victories each in their previous duels on the circuit.
  • They have always met hard, Aryna Sabalenka had won the first two meetings in Cincinnati (6-4, 3-6, 7-5) and Beijing (5-7, 7-6, 6-0) in 2018. this that is starting to date.
  • Caroline Garcia, therefore, has the wind in her sails since she won the next two in Zhuhaï (6-4, 6-4) four years ago, but especially in the semi-finals in Cincinnati (6-2, 4-6, 6). ). -1) only three months ago.

Your trip

Carolina Garcia

1st Group Match: Defeat Cori Gauff [E-U/N.4] 6-4, 6-3
2nd group match: is defeated by Iga Swiatek [POL/N.1] 6-3, 6-2
3rd group match: defeat Daria Kasatkina [RUS/N.8] 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(5)
1/2 Finals: Defeat Maria Sakkari [GRE/N.5] 6-3, 6-2

Aryna Sabalenka

1st group match: beat Ons Jabeur [TUN/N.2] 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5
2nd group match: she is defeated by Maria Sakkari [GRE/N.5] 6-2, 6-4
Group Match 3: Defeat Jessica Pegula [E-U/N.3] 6-3, 7-5
1/2 finals: beat Iga Swiatek [POL/N.1] 6-2, 2-6, 6-1

They said

Caroline Garcia:I am five years older than last time, and perhaps those five years have made me wiser. I’m trying to learn from everything, I’ve had some tough injuries in the last two years. I have a great team behind me, that supports me, that has been positive when I was not. It’s a great year, a lot of good things have happened and I didn’t think it would be like this..”

Aryna Sabalenka: “I think there have been enough miracles this year for me. (he considered his presence at the Masters to be one, editor’s note), it’s time to work hard. This season, I’ve become more of a warrior. I was fighting myself, which is a completely different fight, and I learned a lot from that. Against Iga (Swiatek), I was very calm on the pitch. I wanted to do his job and this state of mind allowed me to win.”

Three Stats to Watch

3. Caroline Garcia is the third Frenchwoman to play a Masters final in the history of women’s tennis, after Mary Pierce and Amélie Mauresmo. The latter is the only blue to have won the trophy by beating… Mary Pierce in the final. This too stumbled over the last step in 1997.

425. This is the number of double faults committed by Aryna Sabalenka this season (including 27 in this Masters), or 136 more than her runner-up in this particular (and not very glorious) ranking, Ekaterina Alexandrova. She also hit 245 aces, which places her 7th in this other hierarchy dominated by… Caroline García and hers 383 aces from her in 2022. This difference in service quality could be one of the keys to this final.

Four. This is the classification in which Caroline García will finish this season in case of victory. She would thus equal her career best set on September 10, 2018, with the prospect of doing better in early 2023 given the meager number of points she will have to defend. Meanwhile, she is guaranteed to finish the season in the Top 5, which hasn’t happened to a Frenchwoman in 16 years.

Our opinion

If Iga Swiatek had been present at the meeting, she would have been the favorite anyway, regardless of her opponent in the final of this Women’s Masters. But that is not the case, which makes this final match of the year on the WTA Tour even more open. Titled three times this year while Aryna Sabalenka hasn’t won the slightest trophy, Caroline Garcia is nonetheless (perhaps) more armed in approaching these very special encounters.

Because above all it will be a matter of managing your emotions well: neither the French nor the Belarusian have played a final of this magnitude in the past. Therefore, it will be necessary to ignore the context as much as possible in order to better express his tennis. This is even more true for these two risk taking players. With his ultra-offensive game, Garcia doesn’t have much room for error and when his plan A, which is now a strong game identity, doesn’t work out, he has a hard time getting ahead, like his US Open semifinal against Ons Jabeur. had shown.

The observation is the same for Sabalenka, whose moments of fever can take on uncontrollable proportions on the serve in particular, in the form of repeated double faults. Still, having beaten Swiatek in the semi-finals could allow him to go into this final with the utmost confidence. So it’s hard to give one or the other a clear advantage even if Garcia, who beat the Belarusian in Cincinnati a few months ago, has a (small) head start.

Our prediction: Caroline Garcia in three sets

Caroline Garcia at the 2022 WTA Finals in Worth

Credit: Getty Images

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