Caroline Garcia continued her 2022 resurgence with an emphatic performance to demolish Petra Kvitova and make history by lifting the Cincinnati WTA 1000 title.
The French No.1, who will now rise to 17th in the rankings and into the world’s top 20 for the first time since 2019, became the first ever qualifier to win a tournament at this (WTA 1000) level with a 6-2 6-4 success in one hour and 42 minutes.
Asked what the secret is behind her impressive run of results, she told Amazon Prime: “I’m healthy again, I can move freely on court and I can play my game. I can enjoy my time practicing and playing matches. I am really going for my shots and following my identity to be aggressive and to go for my winners. I am trying to move forward as much as I can and obviously I am enjoying it and it’s working.”
The 28-year-old has been in red-hot form following her return from a foot injury back in May, winning the doubles title at Roland Garros and leading the WTA singles Tour for most match wins since the start of June. It has left many observers tipping her as a potential US Open champion.
“It’s obviously been a goal since I was a child and from when I started tennis,” she added. “It’s nice that people see me as a contender for the US Open title. A few months ago, there was nothing. I was just coming back from injury and not many people were believing in my aggressive style, I was making too many mistakes. It’s just hard work, belief, staying positive and having good people behind you – and then great things can happen quickly in tennis.”
Garcia is clearly oozing with confidence right now and it was no surprise to see her go on the offensive early on, continuing the high-class standard that saw her claim top 10 victories over Maria Sakkari, Jessica Pegula and Aryna Sabalenka earlier in the week.
The French star benefited from a couple of twitchy double faults from Kvitova to claim an instant break before grinding out a lengthy hold to lead 2-0 after the Czech failed to make the most of two break back opportunities.
Kvitova, who was featuring in her 40th WTA-level final, was struggling to match consistency with big-hitting and soon found herself a double break down as her opponent hit clutch mode in the key moments to lead 4-0. The two-time Grand Slam champion belatedly got on the board and had two more chances to snare a break back, but Garcia was in no mood to allow a revival and coolly closed out a dominant opener in 39 minutes.
There was no let-up at the start of set two as Garcia once again consolidated an immediate break to lead 2-0 and leave Kvitova searching for answers.
The Czech world No.28, who had won 11 of her previous 14 WTA finals, appeared anguished and called for the trainer and a medical time-out for treatment on a calf problem.
When she returned to court there was more grit and determination about her game and she let out a huge roar on snaring a break point with a drive volley at 2-1, but once again Garcia dug deep to maintain her advantage.
The French qualifier was no longer the clearly dominant force and looked set to buckle under the pressure in her next service game at triple break point down, but she rallied hard and hit a trio of aces as she somehow wriggled out of danger to move 4-2 up and within sight of victory.
Kvitova kept battling but Garcia held her nerve to serve out the Championship and maintain her perfect record with three wins from three in WTA 1000 finals. It also means she has now triumphed in seven of her last eight finals overall and will put her firmly amongst the favourites for the US Open.