After clinching the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open title last weekend, world No.15 Caroline Garcia topped off her amazing week at the China Open with a powerful victory over tomorrow-to-be-number-one Simona Halep in the final.
After victories over Elise Mertens, Alize Cornet, third seed Elina Svitolina (saved one match point in the seventh longest WTA match of the season) and twelfth seed Petra Kvitova, the unseeded Garcia entered the Beijing final tired, with seven hours and 44 minutes spent on court, and that seemed to be showing early against Halep, who broke Garcia in the opening game at love.
However, the 23-year-old Garcia needed little time to find her groove and direct her energy in the best possible way, breaking back right away. The set went with serve until the very end, when in the tenth game Halep piled up four unforced errors to cede the set. Both Garcia and Halep made more unforced errors than winners in that first set, and later on in the second as well, but Halep’s errors had worse timing.
In the absolutely crucial seventh game of the second set, Halep earned a 40-0 lead on Garcia’s serve, but the composed Frenchwoman never gave up, leveled to 40-40 and eventually saved a total of nine break points in that game to keep things on serve. Without breaks the set progressed into a tiebreak, in which Garcia imposed her strength for a 6-4 7-6(3) triumph.
Having now won a Premier 5 and a Premier Mandatory tournament back to back, Garcia will rise to a new career-high ranking of No.9 on Monday. Halep, on the other hand, has finally ensured the top spot in the WTA ranking with yesterday’s victory over Jelena Ostapenko, but this achievement must be bittersweet now, as the Romanian has lost her first match as an ensured No.1.