MASON, Ohio -- Caroline Garcia made history at the Western & Southern Open, becoming the first qualifier to ever win a WTA 1000 title. The former World No.4 will surge back into the Top 20 on Monday after a week in which she won eight matches in nine days. Garcia defeated three Top 10 opponents and outhit Petra Kvitova to win her 10th career title, third of the season and first WTA 1000 since 2017.
The key to Garcia's 2022 resurgence -- no player has won more Hologic WTA Tour matches since the start of June than Garcia -- is clarity. The 28-year-old Frenchwoman has always had the flair and athleticism to adapt her game to any situation, but after hiring coach Bertrand Perret, Garcia has embraced a swarming offensive game that is leaving her opponents flummoxed.
"I think when I arrived on tour, I was definitely playing like that," Garcia told reporters. "That's the way it was working for me. That's the way I learned to play tennis. Sometimes I did doubt it, because it was not always working, and you try to forget about what people are saying, but it's always coming to your ears one way or another, and sometimes from people who are well-known, things like that. So it always affects you."
"Then I doubted. And then I did it kind of half and half, and it was not working anymore. You try to do less unforced error, you go back, but then you do less winners because you are less inside the court."
That lack of clarity combined with injuries derailed Garcia after her breakout 2017 season, which saw her win back-to-back WTA 1000 titles in Wuhan and Beijing and qualify for her first WTA Finals. She started 2022 just inside the Top 75 and was sidelined this spring due to a foot injury before making her return at Roland Garros.
Garcia has been a force ever since. She won three titles on three different surfaces and is now 4-0 against Top 10 opponents since she returned.
Garcia sat down with WTA Insider to reflect on her week in Cincinnati and to explain her path to rediscovering her best tennis. Listen to the full interview on the WTA Insider Podcast below:
On playing so aggressively in Cincinnati:
"You know, sometimes I don't really realize how aggressive is it, how inside the court, how much pressure it is putting on the other one. I don't really realize it always, but that's really the way it's been working for me in the past and is definitely working this year so far since I've been healthy and able to train That's the only where we are doing things. I enjoy it. I trust myself more and more.
"I try to let go and just trust it and it's definitely a lot of fun to play this way. I definitely enjoy it a lot, to do winners, to move forward, to go to the net, do volleys. It's the way I like to play tennis. I like to watch tennis played like that. And it's working. So it's even more confidence for me, for the team to keep going that way."
On hiring coach Bertrand Perret and a full-time traveling physio, Laura Legoupil:
"It's always a tough decision, a tough investment in your project and your goals. She's doing the fitness part and physio. The last couple of years I've been injured and I was not able to get through it. There is a physio doing a great job at the WTA, but when you get something over and over, we had the belief that it was better to have someone who was a constant feeling of how things are going, which way you are going.
"So I'm definitely very happy that it's working. Everyone is doing a good job to work together as a team, trying to see where we can improve, what can we do, what is the most important things to do because sometimes you have to choose to pick one way.
"And Bertrand was completely agreeing with my game style. It was quite funny because obviously, my dad is always in the team, traveling less, but really a big part of it. He was calling Bertrand every single day to see how it is going. It proved to me that the decision and the game style was right and it was great to see someone from the outside believe it as much as we did and as much as we do."
On the ups and downs of her career since her breakout 2017 season:
"It was tough. It was not easy because obviously as an athlete, you want to be healthy, you want to be able to compete, but you also want to win. And when you don't get the win, when you don't get that kind of reward, it's harder to go back to practice.
"It's harder to accept the troubles. It's harder to accept the fact that you cannot live a normal life. You don't have friends you can see every weekend. And when it's not working, this part is really harder to deal with it.
"You have to remember, why did you start to play tennis? Because you kind of forget about it.
"So some months and weeks were really complicated, but I got the chance that positive people were behind me, my friends, my family, trying to change a little bit what I was doing, make me live some new experiences. And it definitely helped me to realize things, to see another part of the life and see that I was lucky enough to be able to play tennis for the last years.
"It was a great lifestyle, we are not going to lie about it. And it was something I was still enjoying and gave me energy again to practice, to find solutions and to have people and a good team behind me to feel there was really a strong connection between them. It gave me strength to train, to believe in them."
Listen to the full interview on the WTA Insider Podcast.