NEW YORK, NY, USA - Caroline Garcia put on an inspired performance at Louis Armstrong Stadium to upset the No.1 seed Karolina Pliskova in straight sets and seal her spot into the third round of the US Open.
Garcia looked untouchable in the first set and for much of the second, blasting 30 winners and breaking the booming Pliskova serve three times en route to a 6-1, 7-6(2) statement victory in just over and hour and a half on court.
“It’s top players, so if you wait for the mistake it’s never going to happen,” Garcia told press afterwards. “If you let Pliskova breeze and take your serve, you’re never going to make a return, and then it’s 6-4, 6-4 and you’re done in one hour.
“So you have to make her in trouble - that’s what I liked and it was a great challenge for me. I did well in this challenge and I can take the happiness for it, and now I’m after another one.”
The Frenchwoman was showing signs of her 2017 form, when she won back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing to qualify for the WTA Finals and break into the WTA’s Top 10 rankings. A few years on from her incredible run, Garcia is ranked World No.50 and came into New York looking to win back-to-back matches for just the second time in the year.
But she found a way to neutralize the big-serving Pliskova, who has reached the round of 16 or better in her past four appearances at the US Open. Garcia had always been a tough opponent for Pliskova historically, and Garcia’s win improves her head-to-head record to 4-3 against the top seed.
“I definitely felt really good on court… I was very energized and I really wanted to go out there and give her the battle,” Garcia said. “I know in the past we had tough matches, it was like 3-3. I knew I could get a struggle for sure.
“She gets a lot of confidence from her serve, so I was really trying to be focused on the return and making as many returns as I could.”
Garcia was in full flight from the first point, keeping Pliskova contained to just one winner during the one-sided opening set: the Czech player struck an ace in the second game, but was quickly broken as Garcia applied pressure off the baseline to lead 2-0.
Garcia made it five games in a row before Pliskova finally found her footing, holding serve to avoid losing the set to love. But the former World No.1 wasn’t able to turn things around as Garcia closed it out, 6-1.
The French player kept the momentum going in the second set, breaking once again to start with a 1-0 lead. Garcia was threatening to run away with the match as she extended her lead to 4-2, but Pliskova raised her level to mount a comeback to break back at 4-4.
It was Garcia’s turn to raise her level as she faced two set points with Pliskova leading 5-4 - but the Frenchwoman escaped to send them into a tiebreaker. Garcia reeled off the last five points in a row to shut out Pliskova 6-1, 7-6(2).
“I was really focused each game and each point,” Garcia said. “Especially against top players, you know, one point can make the difference. So I had to stay very calm and keep going.”
The victory also sent Garcia back into the third round, equalling her best US Open result after finishing at that stage in 2016-2018. No.28 seed Jennifer Brady awaits as Garcia looks to reach the round of 16 for the first time.
“She won her first title and she did good since the last year and a half,” Garcia assessed. “I think we have pretty much the same weapons, the serve and the forehand. She moves well on court, and she’s playing in her country even if it’s without fans…
“We had a battle in the past and I’m looking forward to it. Because she’s not ranked maybe as high as Pliskova is today, but she’s definitely going to keep improving, so it’s really a great challenge for me.”