STRASBOURG, France – Defending champion Caroline Garcia soared into the semifinals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg, coming back from the brink against a determined Kristyna Pliskova.
Garcia has yet to drop a set in Strasbourg, although she was pushed to a tiebreaker by the Czech. She had to come back from a double break down – saving six set points along the way – to wrap up the quarterfinal clash, 7-6(3), 6-2.
“I started really bad the first set, I was down 4-0 after just a couple of minutes,” Garcia explained to wtatennis.com afterwards. “I was trying to focus more on myself and put more intensity because everything was very slow on my part. I just tried to take some confidence from the last game of the first set to start the second set better.
“You know in tennis everything can go very fast one way, then very fast in another direction. So I just tried to keep fighting and play point by point.”
Pliskova’s clay game was flowing in the early exchanges as she rocketed ahead to a 4-0 lead over Garcia, peppering in a few tricky dropshots that caught the Frenchwoman off guard. She marched ahead to a 5-1 lead, looking set to comfortably wrap up the one-sided first set, but Garcia had other ideas.
With her back to the wall, Garcia began to mount her comeback and saved set point after set point to reel off five games in a row and get back on equal terms. The pair wrestled for momentum as Pliskova dodged set points of her own – batting away three of Garcia’s opportunities to close it out – and sent the set to a tiebreaker. Five points in a row went the way of the Frenchwoman as she finally took the opening set after a nerve-wracking hour and four minutes.
Spurred on by the momentum having shifted firmly in her favor, Garcia rattled off five games in a row to start out the second set with a daunting 5-0 lead. Although Pliskova dug her heels in at the very end, grabbing one of the breaks back and getting her name on the score board, it was too little too late as Garcia surged ahead to take the match – and her spot in the semifinals – after an hour and four minutes on court.
Aside from her nerves of steel, Garcia credits the support of the local crowd as a factor in turning around the match.
“In the beginning they were a little bit down, they were as down as me in the first set, but after all the emotions and the comeback they did a really great job to push me in the end of the first set,” she said.
“I’m always very happy to play in France. Sometimes it’s a bit more pressure but I really enjoy it and like it. I hope the crowd will be the same way tomorrow.”
She’ll take on Daria Gavrilova in the next round for a shot at reaching back-to-back Strasbourg finals.
“I played her last week in Rome and it was a big fight. I did some stupid mistakes, but also I know she can have some ups and downs. I will just try to play my game and be aggressive.
“I’ll have to be focused and consistent during all the match for sure.”