There are certain players that you know will have a breakthrough at some point. You can almost visualize them winning big tournaments and getting to the top of the rankings. For me, that was not the case with Caroline Garcia. She is the player that I saw getting maybe a couple of early-round victories at Grand slams and moving on to her next tournament. She did not seem to have big weapons in her game or a strong mentality.
To my surprise, she has proved me (and many more people) wrong.
In June she was ranked 79th in the world, and then it all changed. At 28 years old her breakthrough finally came. Even though she has had great results in doubles including a couple of Grand Slams and reaching world No.2, she was not close to achieving those same results in singles.
On June 25th she won the Bad Homburg open title beating Andreescu in the final. In Wimbledon, the good results continued, reaching the round of 16th for the FIRST TIME. In July she got to the semifinals of the Ladies Open and she won the Poland Open that same month, including a significant win in the quarterfinals against Iga Swiatek who was the No. 1 seed.
In August she won the masters 1000 in Cincinnati beating three top 10 and a Grand Slam champion in the process. Making that her third title in three straight months.
She got to the semi-finals of a grand slam in the US Open. Then, she closed her great season in the best way possible by grabbing the WTA Finals title in Fort Worth, Texas.
Like I heard someone once say, “anyone can have a good week of tennis, the hard part is maintaining a good level.” This could not be more true.
We’ve seen it happen multiple times. Every year several players win their maiden title and seem like they might take the tour by surprise but don’t have similar results in the rest of the season. Raducanu and Rybakina are examples of this.
So what was Caroline Garcia able to do to maintain this great level?
Like Novak Djokovic once said “Tennis is a mental game. Everyone is fit, everyone hits great forehands and backhands.”
What happens if those ground strokes let you down? Is that all you can count on?
The great players are the ones that can win on their bad days. Those that find a way to maximize whatever is working on those days.
I had the chance to attend two sessions of the WTA Finals, one of the matches was the 2:30 hours battle against Kasatkina for a place in the semifinals. Of course, I saw Caroline hitting better groundstrokes and moving faster on the court, but overall that I saw a change in her mentality, she seem to have confidence in her game and herself that I just didn’t see before. She was attacking the ball confidently, not giving much time to her opponent, and not showing any doubts when executing her shots. She was excellent at identifying when to come to the net and her serve looked great too. Which is worth highlighting that she is leading the WTA with the most aces this season.
Will we see the same Caroline in the 2023 season?
I never thought I would see her close to the top 10 in the world, but now as a 29-year-old, she is inside the top 5. Or that she would win four titles in six months, including the Finals, but she did that this past weekend.
If her head continues to be in the great place it has been so far, the sky will be the limit for Garcia.