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Garcia storms past Sakkari and will play for biggest career title at WTA Finals

Surging Caroline Garcia will play for the title at the WTA Finals, after dispatching Maria Sakkari in straight sets.

Caroline Garcia WTA Finals 2022 Caroline Garcia WTA Finals 2022 || Rob Prange/Shutterstock/SIPA

Caroline Garcia is saving her best for last in 2022. The Frenchwoman pushed into her biggest career final on Sunday, defeating Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-2, and will play for the title at the WTA Finals on Monday.

Garcia, seeded sixth, will face either Iga Swiatek or Aryna Sabalenka in the final in Fort Worth, and bid to become the first French winner at the WTA’s season-ending championships since Amelie Mauresmo in 2005.

The Frenchwoman broke open a close contest against the Greek, winning seven of eight games from 3-2 in the opening set to lead 6-3, 4-0.

“It was definitely a very good match,” Garcia said after record her 42nd victory of the season. “The first [match of the week] against Coco was good and I think today was just a little bit more relaxed about yesterday [a win over Kasatkina that qualified her for the semis] and really played my game style; forehand was definitely good and did a lot of damage, and my game style today, she didn’t didn’t like it and I was able to stay pretty calm until the end, so it was good.”

Sakkari, who reached the semi-finals without a loss in Fort Worth, drops to 0-3 lifetime against Garcia.

Garcia won a winner-take-all clash with Daria Kasatkina in a third-set tiebreak on Saturday, and returned in less than 24 hours to take the fast lane to victory against Sakkari. She broke serve four times on five opportunities, winning 11 of 19 second-serve return points to close out her victory in one hour and 15 minutes.

Garcia – Riding high since June 1

No WTA player has won more matches than Garcia since the beginning of June. She has now racked up 35 wins, including titles on three surfaces (at Bad Homburg on grass, Warsaw on clay, and Cincinnati on hard). She also reached her first major semi-final at the US Open in September.

“Only Positives”

Garcia was swinging free on Sunday, seemingly released from the pressure of having to qualify for the semi-finals. She cracked 21 winners to just eight for Sakkari, and won 77 percent of her first-serve points, against just 57 percent for Sakkari. It all added up to a signature win for a player in the midst of a signature season.

She plans to approach the final with the same looseness.

“Obviously only good  and positive energy,” she said. “Outside of the Billie Jean King Cup it’s the last match of the year. And it’s going to be one of the biggest matches I will play this year, against Iga or against Aryna is going to be such a battle. 

“I’m really looking forward to it. I would never have believed it one year ago, even in June, when I was doing better, and now today I’m here. Yesterday was super close to not be able to do it. And now it’s only positive things.”

Garcia is the only player in the WTA Finals field to own a win against Swiatek this season, and the pair have split two career meetings. If it is Sabalenka who comes through, Garcia has split four meetings with her, including a win in their last meeting, at Cincinnati in the semis earlier this year.

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