PARIS, France -- Caroline Garcia provided a big boost to the hopes of the partisan fans at Roland Garros on Sunday, as the Frenchwoman notched a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 upset of No.17 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in the opening round of her home major.
World No.45 Garcia is one of three French players found between No.40 and No.50 in the WTA singles rankings, along with Kristina Mladenovic and Fiona Ferro. Garcia is the first of that trio to claim a win in Paris this year with her two-hour and five-minute victory over Kontaveit, moving her into the second round of Roland Garros for the fifth straight season.
"I think we are both pretty aggressive players," Garcia said, during her post-match press conference. "[Kontaveit is] always very solid. You know, you can always count on her to fight until the end, and she rarely lost against a player lower ranked than her."
"Today I was the one who was dominating the rallies more, and the best way was winning the point, and that's what I was able to do at the end of the third set better than her," Garcia added.
Former World No.4 Garcia, whose best result at her home Slam is a quarterfinal run in 2017, is fresh off an upset at the previous Slam as well -- she defeated No.1 seed Karolina Pliskova at the US Open last month. Against Kontaveit, Garcia pulled off another big win, coming back from a break down twice in the final set to level her head-to-head against the Estonian to 2-2.
Very little separated the combatants on Sunday, as the stats were nearly identical when it came to efficiency on service and at the net. The pair each held seven break points on the day, and ultimately the match came down to one extra break for Garcia, which came in the final game of the clash.
Garcia said the third set gave her "a lot of satisfaction. The beginning of third set was tough for me. I had a few opportunities and I couldn't make it."
"Then I tried to be a little bit more aggressive on her second serve, because I had opportunities but I was not really going for it," Garcia continued. "She's not going to give it to me, but I have to go for it."
"I arrived to find the good balance at the end," the Frenchwoman concluded.
Garcia will now take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus in the second round. Sasnovich ousted Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany in three sets earlier on Sunday.
As the match kicked off, Kontaveit did well to save two break points in her opening service game, but it was still Garcia who claimed the critical break in the opening frame. The Frenchwoman fired a forehand winner to earn another break point at 3-3, and then clinched the lead to go up 4-3 after a rally backhand by Kontaveit found the net.
A volley winner by Garcia closed out a consolidation for 5-3, and serving for the set at 5-4, the home country heroine dominated with her forehand to reach double set point. On her first chance, Garcia found a second-service ace to wrap up the one-set lead, finishing out that timeframe with 14 winners, double her opponent’s total.
The Estonian was in trouble in her opening service game of the second set as well, but once she got out of that jam, Kontaveit went on a tear. The 17th seed slammed two sturdy forehands to break for a 3-1 lead, then finished off a love hold with a service winner to leap to a commanding 4-1 advantage.
Garcia saved multiple break points in the next game to keep matters close, but a second straight love hold in the subsequent game pulled Kontaveit to 5-2. The Estonian served for the set at 5-3, where an ace at 30-30 brought her to set point. On that occasion, Garcia shot a forehand error wide, and suddenly, the tilt was tied up at a set apiece.
Kontaveit claimed the early lead in the decider, breaking Garcia with a winning volley in the first game, then consolidating for 2-0. But deep hitting by the Frenchwoman drew errors from Kontaveit to level the set at 3-3, as the third set became more complicated.
Kontaveit broke again before Garcia powered big returns to pull back on serve at 4-4, and the unseeded player stopped the run of service breaks with a swift hold for 5-4. It was here that Garcia made her move, as the forehand wing kicked into high gear to bring her to double match point. Garcia pummeled a series of shots from that side to take her first match point and eke out the thriller.