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Garcia ready to embrace the pressure: “Not going to complain to play on Ashe against an American girl in the quarter-finals”

Caroline Garcia swears she’s not the same player or person as five years ago when she shot to the 4th spot in the ranking. This time, she’s ready to embrace it all, pressure included

Caroline Garcia, US Open 2022 Caroline Garcia, US Open 2022 ; AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Caroline Garcia is on a roll with 12 consecutive wins and looks like she can’t stop winning, giving us all flashbacks of her crazy run through the Asian swing at the end of the 2017 season. As she’s about to face Coco Gauff in her first US Open quarter-final, she reflects on how much those last five years changed her and how she found a way out of the fog she was in lately. And she’s not going to enter Ashe stadium against Gauff with fear in her eyes, she’s going to show up as the champion she wants to be and she’s going to have fun with it.

In her fourth round against Alison Riske Amritaj, who had been her nemesis until then (0-3), Caroline Garcia was struggling to close it out on her serve and had to face break points. And then she smiled. That’s when you knew she wasn’t the same Caroline Garcia of the past five years. Smiling under pressure? Caroline Garcia? No way. But yet she did. “I was up 5-1 and a couple of match points, they were very fast and I started to think. Then, I got a bit stressed. I went for too much on my serve and then didn’t go for it enough. I was smiling because I know it’s not the way, so you try to learn from every single point. It’s always a good lesson.”

This is proof that Caroline Garcia is not only on a great run of victories but also on a totally different path in the way she approaches these big events. For a player who needed years to feel comfortable and not undergo a panic attack on Court Philippe Chatrier, the largest court of Roland-Garros, and who has always been very emotional and a sponge for everything that surrounds her, pressure and stress included, this is a huge improvement. One that can make the difference between a great player and a Grand Slam champion.

“To win, it definitely helps to be happy, to know which way you have to play, to be healthy” – Caroline Garcia

“To win, it definitely helps to be happy, to know which way you have to play, to be healthy. With my team, we are seeing so many things we can still improve, so it gives us purpose to keep improving, to keep working hard. It’s a challenge every day, and it’s a reward to be here today, and I’m grateful for all the hard work we did. I like to play aggressive tennis, to move forward. I’m having fun, enjoying playing that way, and on top of it, I’m glad it’s working and it’s a good way for me.”

We have seen this side years ago already when she had a crazy run in Asia that lead her to the fourth spot of the world rankings in 2018: the more she wins, the more unplayable she becomes. She has the power, the speed, the footwork, the net game and the serve: on any given day, she will be able to beat anyone. But we also saw after that rise to the top that she could lose her path and the plot quickly: pressure and expectations used to be her downfall.

“I don’t feel I am the same person that I was five years ago”

“I think there is a difference: I’m five years older. My game is a little bit different, but I don’t feel I am the same person that I was five years ago. Obviously, I learned a lot. I got some tough years. I got some experience. We have been working hard to come back to the top level. I’m really glad to be at this level again. Really enjoying it.”

Nowadays, it seems that at this stage of her career, the desire to get back to the top and win big has surpassed her fears. She’s aware of the obvious fact that she hasn’t really had the Grand Slam results that her game seemed tailor-made for. She’s a quiet woman but an ambitious one, and now that she’s healthy again after two years of injuries on and off, she is so hungry for success. Sometimes one needs to reach the bottom to decide one really cares about being at the top.

Caroline Garcia fist bump USO 2022
Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

“I’m super excited actually to play Coco in the US, in New York, quarter-final of Slam, it’s great”

If she wants to reach the semi-finals of a Major for the first time in her career, she will have to get the better of Coco Gauff and the US Open crowd. Gauff leads 2-0 in their head-to-head. An overall task that could seem a bit daunting but one that Garcia has decided to enjoy.

“I’m super excited actually to play Coco in the U.S., in New York, quarter-finals of slam, it’s great. She already has some experience with the final in Roland-Garros. She’s a tough player, doing really good this year, very consistent, and still very young. She’s aggressive but maybe from a little bit farther than I am. Big serve, huge serve, very powerful. Moving great. Very athletic. Few differences here and there. She’s playing great in doubles, as well. She knows how to volley, knows how to move forward, covering the court. It’s definitely a great challenge for me.”

“I never played on Ashe against a big American player. As a French player, I know that in Roland-Garros, the crowd can be loud and everything. Obviously, I know it’s going to be the other way around here. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a great experience. I will get myself ready. I will have my little team behind me. That’s the most important, the people you care about who have been supporting you. I’m not going to complain to play on Ashe against an American girl in the quarter-finals.”

Like many other champions in the sport, Caroline Garcia has found a way to love challenges and to really believe that pressure is a privilege.

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