Caroline Garcia wins first Premier title in Wuhan, Caroline Wozniacki qualifies for Singapore
Caroline Garcia secured her first WTA Premier title win with victory at the Wuhan Open
Caroline Garcia came through the tough Premier 5 draw at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, via the likes of Angelique Kerber, Christina McHale, Dominika Cibulkova, and Ekaterina Makarova, to claim the biggest title of her career over Ashleigh Barty in a thrilling two and three-quarter hour final, 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2.
It marked the fourth career title for the 23-year-old world No20 but her first of 2017, and her first ever Premier 5 trophy. It was also the biggest victory by a Frenchwoman since Marion Bartoli won the 2013 Wimbledon title.
Yet just as big a story, perhaps, was the run of Barty, who took a break of almost two years from tennis after the 2014 US Open to play Australian cricket, and even on her return for last year’s grass season, she took part in only four tournaments.
She thus began this year ranked only 271 but almost immediately began to make an impact, not least in coming through qualifying to win the Kuala Lumpur title. She beat Garbine Muguruza to make the final in Birmingham, and performed strongly through the US Open Series.
In Wuhan, ranked 37 and unseeded, she beat four top-20 players, including Johanna Konta, Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko, before the 21-year-old gave Garcia such a test. Her reward is substantial: a jump of 14 places to a career-high 23 come Monday.
Garcia, though, will rise to her own high next week, at No15. Indeed, she will jump to around No11 in the Race to Singapore, though with today’s confirmation of Caroline Wozniacki’s qualification for the end-of-season finale, the door is closing rapidly on the two remaining spots, with Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta next in line.
However, Garcia was rightly proud of her achievements this week.
“Right now, I just feel very happy and proud of my fight of today, proud of all the work we did. To win a title, it’s always something very special. Premier 5, it’s even better.
“You can’t let it go, you have to fight till the end. That’s why you train hard, to play these kinds of moments. Even if you lost, doesn’t matter, you have to fight until the end and find the solution. You don’t find the solution, fine, you have to keep working.”
Both finalists now take the long journey to play in the biggest remaining draw of the season—the WTA championships aside—in Beijing, one of the four Premier Mandatories in the calendar and the last of 2017. They will be relieved to know that their Wuhan efforts have earned them a rare bye direct into the second round—though that still gives them a scant couple of days of recovery.
Wozniacki qualifies for tour finale for fifth time
Wozniacki is the sixth player to qualify for the 2017 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore at the end of October, joining Muguruza, Simona Halep, Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Venus Williams, and that leaves just two places remaining.
It will be the Dane’s fifth appearance at the WTA Finals, where she reached the final in 2010. She said:
“I’m very excited that I’ve qualified for the WTA Finals again. I have such great memories of the tournament, especially from 2010, and I can’t wait to get to back to Singapore and play my best tennis in front of the amazing fans there.”
Wozniacki has reached seven finals this season, and won her 26th career title by defending her crown at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last week.