Caroline Garcia

The biggest second round story from Roland Garros surrounded a French teenager who almost won the breakthrough game of her career.

Caroline Garcia

Caroline Garcia found herself a set and two breaks up against world number eight and three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova before losing 11 straight games.

The 17-year-old from Lyon looked cagey at the beginning of the match after struggling to hold serve and it looked as if that was how the rest of the afternoon would go.

Then she broke Sharapova and the crowd began to lift, suddenly sensing their homegrown talent had a chance against a title favourite whose prospects had increased after Kim Clijsters’ earlier defeat.

Sharapova’s exit would have been more of a shock seeing as she won in Rome recently and Clijsters had only just come back from injury.

Garcia took the first set 6-3 and although she should be admired for that, her Russian opponent was unbelievably poor at times.

A stat which stood out was Garcia winning 16 points in 4-8 stroke rallies compared to Sharapova’s four. Not surprising when she describes herself on clay as “a cow on ice”.

But for however bad the seventh seed was, Garcia can be given much credit. The power on her is remarkable at such a young age and to even be taking Sharapova to lengthy rallies and bossing her in them is also a feat.

In the second set particularly, her shots, including a stunning return of serve, made her look as if she was the world’s top 10 player up against a wildcard.

It was going great until she was broken at 4-1. Sharapova then held to take it to 4-3 before the turning point.

At 30-30, Garcia hit a shot narrowly close to the baseline which, if in, would have put the momentum back in her favour. The umpire had a look and agreed with the original long call, much to the dismay of the French crowd.

From that moment onwards, Sharapova broke again and never looked back eventually winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-0. A cruel last set for the youngster but along with her second round appearance at the Australian Open this year she’ll climb the rankings and should find herself in the top 150.

It was apt that Garcia announced herself to the world after playing Sharapova, having won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old. Like she pointed out in her post-match interview, she’d already been around the tour a while before that win so the fact Garcia is playing more ITF events than junior tournaments is encouraging.

What’s impressive is her nerve. She did look tense before stepping out onto Philippe Chatrier Court but after breaking Sharapova on several occasions she looked composed until the capitulation was triggered. Experience will aid her and once that inevitable big win comes she’ll be reaping the benefits.

Andy Murray was certainly impressed and Garcia will next be seen in the juniors tournament on Monday, so expect more from her progress here next week and certainly beyond that.

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2 Responses to Caroline Garcia

  1. schroeds says:

    Excellent that she played against Sharapova, I was thinking about 17-old Sharapova winning Wimbledon myself while watching. Garcia’s very talented, agree with Murray 🙂 She’ll do well.

  2. lewis_davies says:

    She’ll certainly get her share of WTA wildcards and hopefully she’ll play more qualifying events soon. Just has to take the chances from there. Looks very promising though.

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