Caroline Garcia kept her hopes for qualifying for the WTA Finals alive with a mammoth quarterfinal victory over Elina Svitolina at the China Open.
WTA Staff
October 6, 2017

BEIJING, China - Unseeded Caroline Garcia needed over three hours and three titanic sets, but the Frenchwoman kept both her China Open campaign, and chance to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, alive on Friday with a mammoth victory over No.3 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.

With her 60th winner of the match, Garcia clinched a 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(6) victory over the World No.3 to stretch her winning streak to nine straight matches and reach her second straight semifinal in China. 

Pushed to the brink in three hours, 21 minutes, Garcia twice broke the No.3 seed as she served for the match late in the decider, and saved a match point with a backhand winner down the line in the decisive tiebreak.

On the other hand, Svitolina's bid to leave Beijing with the World No.1 ranking ends, as the Ukrainian needed to win the title to become the 25th No.1 player in WTA history. 

"Even if it was difficult physically from the beginning to the end, I enjoyed every minute I spent out there on the court," Garcia told WTA Insider after the match. "It was such a fight, but I was feeling the ball well in my racquet. I wasn't moving perfectly, but I was really enjoying every minute, even if it was difficult.

Until the end, I tried every hard and never gave up. The head and the mind is always stronger than the body. [The last two weeks] definitely gave me confidence, for sure. I just keep trying to keep playing the same way."

The Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open champion can pass Johanna Konta for the eighth and final spot in the singles field in Singapore should she win her first Premier Mandatory title in Beijing, and will face No.12 seed Petra Kvitova in Saturday's second semifinal. 

From a break down in the opening set, Svitolina won four straight games to take her first lead of the match at 4-3.

Momentum swings which characterized the match were on display early, as Svitolina failed to capitalized on two set points in the 10th game, only to drop serve at her next opportunity and trail 6-5.

However, the World No.3 dug in with a love break to force a first-set tiebreak, and twice came from a mini-break down once there to steal the opener by winning the last four points.

The second set unfolded in similar fashion to the first, with Garcia scoring the first break of the set only to see Svitolina battle back.

Six of the first eight games of the second set proved breaks of serve, as Svitolina built herself a cushion of one Garcia service game twice.

However, the 24-year-old never proved beaten, as she responded at the first opportunity each time, and saved three break point chances in a pivotal ninth game that would've seen Svitolina serve for the match.

Buoyed by her late momenum, Garcia snagged the decisive break of the set in emphatic fashion, sending the match to a decider with a blistering forehand winner to clinch a love break in the final game of the second set.

In the final set, Garcia trailed by a break on four separate occasions in the match, as the final set concluded with a string of seven straight breaks of serve. 

After the two traded mini-breaks over the first two points of the final tiebreak, the decisive moments moved along with serve, and Garcia faced her first match point of the day with Svitolina leading 6-5. 

The World No.15 stepped to the line, served to the Svitolina backhand and ripped a backhand winner down the line on the ensuing return, the first of three straight points she won to seal the victory.

"I had to be aggressive when I saved the match point. I'm working on my backhand down the line, and sometimes I just go back cross - but that's the moment I have to do it," Garcia said of the winner that saved match point. 

"In these kind of moments, I'm going to improve. I just took my spot and went for it, and it changed the match. I don't know if I would've done it [before], but I just try to forget about it being match point. I was fighting three hours, and if I didn't go then, I would never go."

At the close of the match, Garcia's 60 winners kept her afloat in the match alongside 67 unforced errors, while Svitolina tallied 31 winners to 42 unforced.

The World No.15 proved more effective on her break point opportunities, winning 10 of 16 she created, while Svitolina converted on nine of 21 chances.

Garcia's titantic effort keeps her in contention for the eighth and final singles spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore. 

Winning the title in Beijing would see the Frenchwoman leap past Great Britain's Johanna Konta into the eighth and final qualifying position.

"It's great to be in the battle [for Singapore]. It's not only about what I'm doing, but it's another challenge. That was one of the goals at the beginning of the year. I've been there two times in doubles, and I wanted to be there in singles. It's nice to be able to be close and fight for it."
Caroline Garcia on the fight for the WTA Finals

Looking to make her second straight final, Garcia will face Kvitova for the second time this season and sixth time overall. The Czech won their third round match at the US Open, 6-0, 6-4, to lead 3-2 in their head-to-head.

"The match we played at the US Open, I was a little bit disappointed by my performance. I really want to do better, and I know I have to try to dominate the point or I will run a lot," Garcia said. 

"We all know what she's capable of doing, so I'm excited...to go on court and to have another opportunity to improve and go for it."