STUTTGART, Germany - No.6 seed Caroline Garcia battled past a talented teen on Thursday, holding off 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, to reach the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals.
"In the last few games, I wanted to be more aggressive on her serve and go for it," Garcia explained in her post-match press conference. "I couldn't make it at 5-4, with too many mistakes and I couldn't read her serve as well. But I stayed focused on my service games, trying to put in a lot of first serves, and play with my forehand.
"At 6-5, it was so close with just a few points, and I was able to be more aggressive. It could have went either way, I think."
The final set featured 11 consecutive service holds with Kostyuk, the youngest to win a match at this event since Martina Hingis in 1994, finally bowing to the reigning China Open champion after one hour and 41 minutes on court.
Still, the Ukrainian youngster has plenty to be proud of after her week in Stuttgart as she moves closer to a Top 100 debut and thrilled the Court 1 crowd with some stellar shot-making.
"When you come out of qualies, especially when it's three matches to get into the main draw, you're more used to the conditions," Garcia said of her opponent. "You feel confident, but you could also feel fatigued after three tough matches and a first round. She was very impressive in the first round, getting a very clean win. I didn't know her very well, and it was the first time I'd seen her play.
"She plays great, moves well, and fights a lot on court. For me, it was a difficult match to prepare for, because I didn't know what to expect. There aren't too many videos or stats on her because she's brand new on tour, so that's never easy. She just went for it."
Garcia began the week with a comeback victory over former World No.1 Maria Sharapova, and dropped just one point behind her first serve in the 30 minute opening set against Kostyuk. But the Ukrainian teenager showed the form that helped her reach the third round of this year's Australian Open in the second, racing out to a 5-2 lead and holding on to force a decider.
With little to separate the two, Garcia converted the only break point of the third set to secure victory and book a last eight encounter with No.3 seed Elina Svitolina, who outlasted another impressive up and comer in 18-year-old Marketa Vondrousova.
Garcia leads the Svitolina 2-1 in their head-to-head, with both wins coming last fall in back-to-back thrillers in Beijing and at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
"It's going to be a great match with different conditions, on a clay court. It's going to be a battle against Elina, as it always is against another top player.
"I have to play better than I played today, give fewer free points away because she doesn't give anything to opponents. But I always look forward to these kinds of matches, because they're the ones I can learn from the most."