BEIJING, China - Caroline Garcia left the US Open ranked No.20 in the rankings and No.16 on the Porsche Race to Singapore Leaderboard, perfectly happy to be in contention for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai. Four weeks later, the 23-year-old capped off an incredible run in China, winning 11 consecutive matches to win the two biggest titles of her career at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and the China Open.
On Monday, Garcia will make her Top 10 debut at No.9 and she is now in pole position to qualify for her first BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, leapfrogging Johanna Konta to sit at No.8 in the Porsche Race to Singapore Leaderboard with two weeks to play.
En route to her first Premier Mandatory title in Beijing, Garcia scored two Top 5 wins, saving match point to defeat Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals, avenging her US Open loss to Petra Kvitova, and then gutting out a tight 6-4, 7-6(3) win over soon-to-be No.1 Simona Halep in Sunday's final.
It's been a whirlwind fortnight for Garcia, and she joined the WTA Insider Podcast to try and put it all in words.
"It's quite difficult for me actually because everything went very fast," Garcia said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "It was six matches in a row in Wuhan and five in a row her in five days. After every match, I tried to forget about it and refocus on the present and on the next match. So I actually can't really remember how my tournament went.
"Every match was difficult from the first round against Elise Mertens to Alize Cornet. They were all very different but they were all very important and I learned a lot. All this experience I got in these two weeks definitely helped me win the final today."
Listen to the full interview with Garcia below:
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WTA Insider: Was there a sense going into today that you were near the finish line? That maybe you could get some rest after today's final?
Garcia: No, because you cannot be happy about what you're doing. You have to keep going, if not you are going to miss your chance and then you will regret it and you're going to be frustrated because you didn't prepare yourself well. So I was really careful to get myself prepared the best I could, even if it was 11 matches in a row.
It was difficult to believe that I was actually in the final because I started Beijing just a few days ago. But it was difficult to believe I was in a final again, actually. It was just a process and I really wanted to play this final at 100% and really enjoy every single minute. I didn't want to have any regrets about it.
WTA Insider: You lost to Halep in the Toronto quarterfinals over the summer. How different is the Caroline Garcia sitting here today, as a player and person, compared to the one in Toronto?
Garcia: I learned a lot from my match against Muguruza in Tokyo. I watched my match again and I really saw some stuff. I was feeling close but it was a two-set win for her. It was only because I was missing a couple of shots by a little bit. So I tried to really focus on this kind of shot, still be very aggressive but give less free points to my opponents, less unforced errors because in the top they don't give you free points. If you look at the stats sometimes it's just a couple of unforced errors, and I was always doing too much. My winners are still here so sometimes it's just about statistics and mathematics.
WTA Insider: On Monday you'll be one of the nine best players in the world. Can you even process that?
Garcia: Not really, for now. It's something special to be in the Top 10. The best would be to finish in the Top 10, that would mean even more. Sometimes when you see people who are random, because you travel with your tennis bags, they ask you 'Do you play tennis?' and I say yes, 'A little bit. I'm ok.' And they ask for your rank and I used to say 20, 25. And they would say 'Oh, you're pretty good.' And I would say I'm ok.' So now I have to say I'm No.9, right (laughs)?
It's unreal to be one of the best top players in the world. You can't really describe this sensation.
WTA Insider: Have you had to stop yourself from thinking about all of this in order to play as well as you have?
Garcia: To play a match like I played today or all week, I really had to forget about everything. About winning Wuhan. Because if you're happy about something then you might not make the sacrifice that you need to do. So I tried to forget about it. I couldn't think during the match that I was maybe going to win my first Premier Mandatory and be in the Race to Singapore. I have to play my match and just focus on the game and focus on what has paid off during this two weeks and I have to keep going.
WTA Insider: How much does the potential to qualify for Singapore change the next two weeks.
Garcia: It will be long (laughs). It changed everything because two weeks ago I was very happy to be in Zhuhai because it's a nice challenge.
Actually, in Tokyo I was speaking with Jo Konta. We were just - not joking about it - but she was pretty safe to be in. After we said, do you remember last year, Kuznetsova had to win and it was a really last minute change and everything? And the only chance [this year] was for someone to win Wuhan and Beijing (laughs).
I'm so sorry for her. No one would believe someone No.19 in the world would win Wuhan and Beijing in the row, right? We changed all the prognostications for the last spot. It's tennis. We know everything can change fast.
WTA Insider: Does it make it extra special for this to be happening this year, after all the injuries and everything, for this to be happening now?
Garcia: It's special because to win some tournaments like this, to be in the Top 10, it means something to you every single time. For sure it was a difficult time. Some bad things happened, some bad things have been said. But for me it's special not because of all these negatives but because it was a journey and we accepted. It was difficult, there were some tough roads, but we accepted the challenge. We stayed stronger. I think with my parents it made us even stronger, to stick together and go through it together.
It means something for me because some people were very close to me when I started my career and they are still very important for me and my team. Their support means more than anything else. All the bad things... I don't need to prove anything to anyone. I tried my best. I'm very happy that my team is proud of me, that my dad looked at me how he looked at me after the match point. That's the most important thing for me. I don't care to prove anything to the people who said some bad things about me. I know who stuck with me when it was difficult. Sometimes when things go nicely it's easier to change your mind for sure, but I have a memory and I will remember.
WTA Insider: Early in the week you said you were going to save your celebrations for November. What do you think your celebration is going to be like? Are you just looking forward to lying in bed and no one talking to you?
Garcia: Yeah, I'm looking forward to lay down in a bed and not have to wake up and not have to warm up or anything. No more plain rice with grilled chicken and broccoli for a couple of days. My trainer will not be happy and he will think I'm fatter, but it doesn't matter (laughs).