STUTTGART -- Twelve months ago, if you told Caroline Garcia she would make five Hologic WTA Tour quarterfinals in the first four months of the season, she would have been ecstatic. But Thursday at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, after making her fifth quarterfinal of the year, Garcia admitted the accomplishment now falls a bit flat.

"I felt I'm struggling a lot since the beginning of the year," Garcia said after posting a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over Tatjana Maria. "Obviously winning matches, losing some very tight ones. But I win with struggle. Everything is a struggle on court, off court.

"It's a good lesson, but you always realize that you're never happy with what you have. Most of the time you always want to achieve more, always want to be better, to reach a higher level."

Potapova defeats Gauff, faces Garcia in Stuttgart quarterfinals

Along with her five quarterfinals this season, Garcia has made two tournament finals. The first came at her home event in Lyon. The second a few weeks later in Monterrey. But she comes into Stuttgart in search of her first title since finishing 2022 with a title run at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth.

Takeaways: Swiatek sweeps past Zheng in Stuttgart return

Importantly, Garcia has reunited with coach Bertrand Perret, the man who helped engineer her resurgence a year ago by instilling the hyper-aggressive mindset that boosted her from No.74 at the start of the season to a Top 4 finish. The two originally split in advance of the WTA Finals and came back together earlier this month.

"Why we split up, why we come back, it's part of the past," Garcia said. "But it's a good chemistry between the two of us, and he understands very well my aggressive game style. He's open-minded to make me train very inside the court or to make me return in that position.

"It's paying off. Now we are just focused on the present and what can we do and what can we improve for the future."

Despite her self-described struggles, Garcia comes into Stuttgart off a pair of inspired wins at the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers. Along with Alizé Cornet, Garcia put France into the Finals with a win against Great Britain. Garcia's opening win over Katie Boulter, a 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(2) battle, was a key component to her confidence. She credits a mid-match pep talk from French captain Julian Benneteau for helping her see her season in a different light.

"I was so frustrated, I was pissed off, [saying] nothing is working,” Garcia said. “I'm always losing tight tiebreak. … I do only bad.

"He's like, 'OK, calm down. You're No.5, No.11 in the Race. You play good tennis.’

"I was like, 'Yeah, but it's not working.' Sometimes you just need someone from the outside to tell you a few things and to put your feet back on the ground and say, OK, you're not going to win every single match. You have an opponent on the other side of the net. You have to take one day at a time.”

It was a lesson she applied against Maria in her Stuttgart opener. The crafty German has always been a tricky puzzle for Garcia. Their two previous meetings went a full three sets. To pocket the straight-sets win on Thursday night, Garcia rallied from a break down in each set.

The victory snapped Maria's six-match win streak, with the World No.71 coming off a successful title defense in Bogota two weeks ago.

With another hard-fought win under her belt and continued work with Perret, Garcia's confidence is on the rise.

"I'm not really going 100 percent for my shot,” Garcia said. “I think it made me sometimes less powerful on court. That's the first challenge.

"And then, I think I can still return better, like better target and can defend a little bit better sometimes.

"I mean, it's like asking Iga what can she improve? Like she's losing two matches in a year. I'm pretty sure she can find stuff, so I can definitely find stuff."