Caroline Garcia capped off a remarkable six-month period in her tennis career as she won the WTA Finals with a 7-6 6-4 victory against Aryna Sabalenka in Fort Worth, Texas.
Garcia was outside the top 70 in the world rankings as recently as June, but since then has enjoyed a superb run of form, culminating in the biggest title of her career on Monday.
“Definitely a lot of giant happiness” is how the 29-year-old described her emotions after overcoming Sabalenka in straight sets – taking the first set in a tie break, then breaking her opponent in the opening game of the second set.
The victory sees Garcia become the second French player to win the WTA Tour’s season-ending tournament after Amelie Mauresmo in 2005.
It also sees her rise to a career high position of No. 4 in the world rankings and take home $1.57 million in prize money.
In a close first set, Garcia produced a ruthless serving performance – hitting 10 aces and winning 81.5% of her first-serve points – and came to the net with good effect.
Sabalenka, who had ousted world No. 1 Iga Swiatek to earn a spot in Monday’s final, produced three aces in reply but also saw her serve become her undoing with two double faults in the tie break, including one to hand Garcia the first set.
It has been the familiar story of Sabalenka’s season with the Belarusian recording 425 double faults in total; no other player has finished this year in the 300s, according to the WTA website.
In the first game of the second set, Garcia broke Sabalenka with a powerful forehand return having set up the first break point of the contest, then proceeded to serve out the match and wrap up her fourth title since June.
“With this tournament I think from one match to another I really played better and better,” Garcia told Tennis Channel while sporting a Texan cowboy hat.
Despite a defeat against Swiatek last week, Garcia recoded victories against Coco Gauff, Daria Kasatkina and Maria Sakkari on the way to beating Sabalenka in the final.