SINGAPORE - Caroline Garcia extended her stay in Singapore after battling past Elina Svitolina in three sets to stay alive in the Red Group at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
In a rematch of their China Open epic from a few weeks ago - which saw Garcia save match point to beat Svitolina en route to the biggest title of her career - the Frenchwoman pulled off the stunner once again, winning 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-5 after a two hour and 45 minute battle.
“This was an incredible battle, the last match I had against Svitolina was already very long, and this one was the same,” Garcia told Andrew Krasny in her on-court interview. “It was a battle on every single point, and I’m just happy to be through.”
Garcia employed her aggressive, all-court game early on and did well to get ahead an early break in the first set, but the Frenchwoman couldn’t close out Svitolina when she had the chance. Svitolina worked her way back in it and pounced as Garcia began to rack up the unforced errors, recovering the break to level the score.
The same pattern emerged in the tiebreak, where Garcia quickly got ahead 4-0 but allowed Svitolina back in it. The Ukrainian fought off two set points to steal away the opening set.
Svitolina got ahead to a quick break in the second set, but Garcia came roaring back after an emotional changeover trailing 2-1. She stepped into her shots and raised her level again, reeling off four games in a row to earn a double break and marching ahead to take the second set.
The tug-of-war match continued in the deciding set; Svitolina got ahead a break twice, and both times Garcia broke straight back to stay in touching distance. Garcia’s second break back came while trailing 5-3 with Svitolina closing in on the finish line, but the Frenchwoman stayed calm and kept pounding away at Svitolina’s defenses. She rattled off four games in a row to claim the victory after a rollercoaster two hour and 45 minute battle.
“It was so quick and it's very, very tough to say [what made the difference],” Svitolina described in her post-match press conference. “I don't want to really go into details, you know. One point maybe decided the match, but I missed my chances. I cannot change them... My game was completely off.”
“I knew this was my chance, so I went for it,” Garcia explained. “I tried to be even more aggressive [at 5-3 down in the third], tried to use down-the-line, and I was more and more accurate and I went for it on the good shots.
“I was patient on the long rallies, and it makes the difference.”
With Garcia’s victory, the Red Group remains wide open and all four players are still in contention to advance to the knockout stage. Caroline Wozniacki’s victory earlier in the day ensures she’s qualified, but her position remains undetermined with the remaining three players battling to advance.
On Friday, Svitolina will face Halep and Garcia will take on Wozniacki to determine who will advance from the Red Group.
“A few weeks ago I was not very expecting to be here, so the preparation was a little bit complicated,” Garcia said. “On court I was obviously feeling nervous, but I'm very happy that I kept working out yesterday, get myself prepared better. Today was such a battle, so I'm very happy to be through with a win.
“[Wozniacki] played some great two matches. It was fast. No one was expecting this kind of match today against Halep. She has experience, she already came here in Singapore.
“It's a great match for me to play and it's another player who is moving well on court, giving few free points. So I just want to recover very well and be ready for my next match.”