STRASBOURG, France – Caroline Garcia, the No.4 seed, survived a major scare against prodigious teenager Marta Kostyuk by coming back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
Garcia puts her win in Strasbourg in 2016 among the highlights of her career and still has an opportunity to replicate that success after recovering from a set and a break down to defeat the 16-year-old.
It was the second time this week that Garcia has recovered from the brink, having been pushed all the way in her first-round match by Shelby Rogers.
The only previous experience she had against the Ukrainian was a tough three-setter on the clay of Stuttgart a year ago, and for long periods on home soil the Frenchwoman, who saved seven of 10 break points, found this encounter every bit as awkward.
Kostyuk, who was angling for her biggest ever career win in her first WTA Tour quarterfinal, might have lost her serve in the opening game but rarely showed signs of nerves. Indeed, her aggressive hitting ensured that the former WTA World No.4 spent long periods of the opening set on the back foot.
She broke back immediately and made the decisive move following an intervention from her coach after she had held to move 4-3 clear. Having been asked to change the direction of her attack and use more spin, she used that advice to string together winners and break serve.
From the Frenchwoman’s perspective, the opening set had been frustrating due to the 11 unforced errors she hit, with those often arriving at important moments. Although she won the first six points of the second set, this unfortunate habit seemed destined to continue as she dropped three successive games and was suddenly teetering on the brink of elimination.
In adversity, though, she showed the talent that has wrought her six WTA Tour titles. Her forehand, which had previously leaked numerous errors, started to find its range and the mistakes that had plagued her during the opening set disappeared, allowing her to win five successive games and force a decider.
By now, the momentum of the match had dramatically shifted in favor of the home player. While Garcia’s game continued to flourish, the belief that had underpinned the efforts of her opponent visibly started to fade, reducing her to tears as an eighth successive game went the way of her rival.
Kostyuk’s resistance certainly was not over, however. Her thumping returns won her break points in Garcia’s next service game, and though she was unable to break, she finally ended a run of nine straight games against her courtesy of a lovely drop and her seventh ace.
Indeed, she remained competitive right up to the final blow, a fine backhand winner into the corner.
Garcia will now face compatriot Chloe Paquet in the semifinals on Friday.