SINGAPORE - Caroline Garcia seemed down and out after a first-set whitewash - but fought back from the brink to snatch a magnificent 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Caroline Wozniacki and progress to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
Wozniacki had picked up in the same sparkling form that she had displayed in her previous matches this week. The World No.6 had delivered a bagel set in each of her resounding round robin wins over Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep, and she dished up another to Garcia in just 22 minutes, permitting the Frenchwoman a mere seven points - the first time in the history of the WTA Finals that any player has scored three 6-0 sets.
The Dane's wall-like strategy was once again working to perfection as she conceded just one unforced error in the set compared to the nine shed by her opponent - many of them elicited by smart changes of direction and pace. However, Wozniacki's serve has been on top form this week as well: she did not lose a point behind her first serve, and struck two of her eventual total of eight aces. Over the course of the match, this would be her key weapon - indeed, of the eight break points the former World No.1 would save today, five would be with an ace or service winner.
Garcia has made a habit lately of battling back, though, and the second set saw the Frenchwoman deploy more spin on her shots and more patience in her point construction to cut down on her cheap errors. This wasn't at the expense of her aggression, though: pummeling her opponent's forehand with hard, heavy and relentless groundstrokes paid off in the fifth game as Garcia became the first player this week to break the Wozniacki serve. Having hit just four winners in the first set, the World No.8 would ultimately tally 27 in the second and third sets.
For her part, Wozniacki's own baseline game had begun to lose both depth and accuracy: she had failed to take a brace of break point chances two games earlier thanks to errors on forehand passes, and her own unforced error tally crept up to an unusually high 11 in the second set.
Having fought so hard to force a decider, Garcia came down to earth in its opening stages. Two consecutive shanks handed over the first break to Wozniacki in the third game; two games later, the WTA Finals debutante would be unable to take advantage of two break-back points as the 2010 runner-up maintained her lead.
Garcia is getting used to coming back from the brink, though - and for the fourth time in her Asian swing this year, she would find a way to beat an opponent who had served for the match. Staring down the barrel at 4-5, Garcia conjured up her very best form of the day, firing bullet returns and refusing to back down - ultimately capturing the break back with a magnificently constructed rally and a celebration to match.
Thereafter, Garcia's momentum was unstoppable. Three break-back points for Wozniacki were snuffed out at 5-5 thanks to big serving and a swashbuckling foray to the net; in the lead for the first time at 6-5, Garcia upped the ante on her returns even more, seizing victory on her second match point as a Wozniacki forehand drifted long.
After that, all Garcia had to do was wait - and cheer for Elina Svitolina in the final Red Group match. The Ukrainian's win against Halep put Garcia into the WTA Finals semifinals where she will take on former champion Venus Williams.