Caroline Garcia and Ashleigh Barty went the distance in the 2017 Wuhan Open final.
In 2016, Caroline Garcia snapped a two-year singles title drought with victories on clay in Strasbourg, France, and on grass in Mallorca, Spain. As she made a decision to focus more on her singles play in 2017, the Frenchwoman went the bulk of the year without a title, but made some on-court strides, particularly at the Grand Slam level by advancing to her first major quarterfinal in Paris and the fourth round at Wimbledon.
After a third-round showing at the US Open, she turned her attention to the “Asian Swing” on the WTA calendar. At her first appearance, in Tokyo, she advanced to the quarterfinals. It was in Wuhan, China, though, where she posted her best result of the season by advancing to the final.
In the championship match, she would face Ashleigh Barty. The unseeded Australian, in the midst of a comeback since she stepped away from the game to play rugby, had the best run of her burgeoning career as she defeated three members of the Top 10 to reach her third final of the year.
Facing each other for the first time in their careers, it was the more-experienced Frenchwoman that was making headway first as she went up a break in the opening set on two occasions. However, Barty continued to battle back and forced a tiebreaker, which she won 7-3.
In the second set, Barty found herself in position to claim the top prize. She served for the championship twice, as there were four breaks of serve in the later stages. Each time, Garcia turned the tables on the Australian and like Barty in the first set, brought the proceedings to another tiebreak. Reaching set point, Garcia clinched it when Barty missed a forehand wide to send the match into a deciding set.
Having shifted the tone of the match in her favor, Garcia got on top of Barty early with a break to take a 3-1 lead. Recording another break, she found herself up 5-2, and at 40-15, a serve down the middle and a missed return gave Garcia the biggest title of her career.
This was Garcia’s first hard-court title. She lost her previous two finals on the surface back in 2015.
Barty reached her third singles final of the year. However, this was the first one she didn’t advance to the doubles final, too.
The last year a Frenchwoman won a title at this level or higher was 2013, when Marion Bartoli triumphed at Wimbledon.
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