TIANJIN, China - Defending champion Caroline Garcia was given a scare in her opening round match at the Tianjin Open.
From a set and a break down, Garcia won nine straight games, and 11 of the last 13 in all, to beat Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, and seal a victory in Monday's first round.
Outplayed by the World No.88 over the course of the first 11 games, Garcia got back on track with her first break of the match in the fourth game of the second set, and hardly looked back to wrap up victory in a shade under two hours.
"Today was a difficult match, because I think she played great tennis in the first set," Garcia said.
"I managed to stay calm and change my game a little bit. I'm very happy with how I fought through a tough battle.
"I'm very happy to be back in Tiajin, becuase I have great memories from last year, so it's always nice to be back."
— WTA (@WTA) October 7, 2019
Efficiency on break points proved the decisive factor in the opening set, as Potapova went 2-for-3, breaking in both games where she created chances, to take a one set lead.
Garica went 0-for-6 on her chances, all of which came in the last three games, and was unable to convert on a 0-40 window as the Russian served out the set.
"She's young and I didn't really know her, but she played some very aggressive tennis in the first set," Garcia continued.
"She was moving very well...but I stayed calm in the second set and changed my game a little bit to adapt, and I think it was good tactics. I'm happy with how I stayed calm through the match and found something different."
The eighth time nonetheless proved lucky for Garcia overall, as she finally cracked the code to win a return game, converting on her second chance in Potapova's second service game of the second set.
— WTA (@WTA) October 7, 2019
That kicked off a dominant stretch for the No.4 seed, as she lost just six points in the next four games to level the match at one set apiece, and she later won the first four games of the final set.
Though Potapova captured back-to-back games, with seven straight points, to close the gap somewhat late in the decider, the defending champion would not be denied a second round spot against either Lauren Davis and Wang Yafan.
"I think she has a very good game for hard courts, and she plays flat. She was moving and was really liking my ball in the first set. She has good potential and got good wins this year,"
"I think it was because I stayed calm that I was able to go through the second and third sets. I gave her less pace, so I think that was good, but it was a tight match and a tough game."
Ultimately, the Frenchwoman racked up more winners, 25 to 13, than Potapova, and fewer unforced errors, 29 to 33.
After winning over 70 percent of the points on her first serve in the opener, the Russian accumulated eight double faults, and landed just 47 percent of her first serves over the course of one hour and 55 minutes.