Sports

Caroline Garcia starts the Masters with a reassuring victory over Coco Gauff



The first exchanges could have raised fears of a completely different scenario. Despite a large percentage of first serves and an immediate desire to attack her opponent, the 6th in the world, in difficulty as soon as the exchange set in, forced a forehand and conceded the entry break.

Garcia grabs Gauff by the throat

Not enough to distract her from her desire to take Gauff by the throat, as she had done so well in the quarter-finals of the US Open in early September (6-3, 6-4). Her first game back gave her the path to follow: with both feet inside the court, she repeatedly found a deep zone, in the feet of the American, deprived of time.

Aware of the danger, Gauff forced her second and committed a double fault on a break point. Garcia had taken control of the game and wasn’t going to let go.

Well helped by a very good percentage of first serves (74% in the first set), variations in areas and effects which disturbed the 18-year-old player on the restart, the Lyonnaise, once again very skilful at the net, chained the easy service games and could put pressure on his opponent’s commitments.

At 5-4, Gauff made two quick faults in the rally then, at 30A, gave in after a committed rally. On a second ball from the American, Garcia took her chance and hit a huge forehand full center which gave her the win of the first set.

The Swiatek Thursday Challenge

Overwhelmed by a player who had gained confidence and who was hitting harder and harder, Gauff tried to get Garcia out of her comfort zone by alternating curved strikes, flat accelerations and climbing to the net, but the Frenchwoman, very comfortable in her movements, did not seem embarrassed. She punished the slightest neutral ball from her opponent and succeeded in the first break of the second set.

At 3-1, 30-0, she relaxed very slightly, like this forehand into the net on a break point after a superb exchange. Far from panicking, she immediately resumed her march forward. Two double faults from Gauff, a magnificent lob and then another risk-taking on the return gave him a break ahead. This time, she had definitely got her hands on the meeting.

A point concluded at the net then three winning services, Garcia finished the job on a royal shutout. This is her fifth victory against a top 10 player since July (Swiatek, Sakkari, Pegula, Sabalenka and Gauff). It allows him to be ideally placed in the Tracy Austin group, second behind Iga Swiatek (unlike games).



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