Fort Worth (Texas) Nov 2 (SocialNews.XYZ) French tennis player Caroline Garcia, making a WTA Finals appearance for the first time in five years, made a powerful statement in the year-ending championships with a straight-sets opening-round win over American teenager Coco Gauff in the round-robin tournament.
The No.6 seed Garcia needed 1 hour and 18 minutes to defeat No.4 Gauff 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday night. It was the first round-robin match for each of them in the Tracy Austin Group. "It was definitely a good match, pretty solid on my side," Garcia was quoted as saying by wtatennis.com after the match. "I think I stayed really positive at every moment.
"(Coco) is always impressive to play against, it's always a lot of intensity and she can do so many things. ... It was very important for me to stay calm, stay on my game and what I wanted to do, and I think I did it good."
Garcia joins world No.1 Iga Swiatek of Poland as the first winners in the Austin Group. Swiatek dispatched No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina in straight sets earlier during the day.
Garcia's maiden WTA Finals debut came in 2017 following consecutive WTA 1000 titles. She reached the semifinal then but missed out on singles qualification for the next three editions -- the WTA Finals were not held in 2020 due to Covid-19.
At the start of this year, Garcia was ranked outside the top-70. However, is seeing resurgence in the second half this year, which she credits to increased aggressive play. Garcia has won 33 Tour-level matches since June, at least 10 more than any other player in that timeframe.
Garcia won three titles in the back end of 2022, all on different surfaces, and she made the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career at the US Open.
Garcia securing her second WTA Finals qualification five years after her debut means she becomes only the fourth players to have have had longer gaps between their first and second WTA Finals appearances -- Amy Frazier (eight-years), Barbara Paulus (six years) and Judith Wiesner (six years).
Gauff had won their first two encounters, but Garcia achieved her career-best major result by beating Gauff in the 2022 US Open quarterfinals. Garcia continued her momentum against the American on Tuesday, firing 20 winners to Gauff's 12.