Caroline Garcia, 5th in the world, qualified with forceps for the 1/8th finals of the WTA 1000 in Indian Wells, beating 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1 the Canadian Leylah Fernandez ( 49th), Saturday in California.
After a laborious start in the previous round, the 29-year-old Frenchwoman, winner of the Masters at the end of last year, had to work again against an opponent she had beaten in the second round of the Open d Australia two months ago, after a close encounter.
This time, she showed a lot of solidity in her entry game. Always so sharp, taking the ball very early, she was rewarded by her aggressiveness and especially by her precision in the strikes. And she was realistic, since she only needed one opportunity to break in the first set.
Relying on a good first ball, she never gave Fernandez, a finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2021, the opportunity to take her serve in the second set.
But in the deciding game, the 20-year-old Canadian made the difference. Fighting on all the balls, excelling in her counter game, she released returns and passings from her racket which made Garcia bend.
The Lyonnaise swayed on her first engagement of the third set, saving two break points, the only ones provided by Fernandez. Then, doubling down on punch when her rival sagged, it was she who finished with a bang, after 2:13.
“The start of the last set was very important. She was putting a lot of pressure on and I was a bit on edge after losing the second. I tried to put more intensity and fight. That’s what I did better, I put more pressure and I am very happy with this victory”, she reacted hotly.
The French, semi-finalist of the last US Open and winner just before the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, never managed to go beyond the 1/8th finals, in the Californian desert.
She will have the opportunity in her next match against the Romanian Sorana Cirstea (83rd), expeditious to dismiss the American Bernarda Pera (43rd) 6-3, 6-1.