Perth : WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia delivered the goods under pressure, defeating Petra Martic 7-6(9), 6-4 in a must-win United Cup rubber to keep France’s hopes of advancing to the City Finals alive, here on Tuesday.
Croatia had led 2-0 overnight after wins for Donna Vekic and Borna Coric, but Garcia came into her clash with Martic with a promising 4-1 head-to-head record. The WTA Finals champion backed that up, extending it to 5-1 as she denied Martic the chance to clinch for her team.
Fittingly for a contest between two of the best servers on Tour, the first set went down to the wire and was decided by the thinnest of margins. Through the first 12 games, it was Martic who carved out more chances on return, deploying her sliced backhand to fine effect — including on one lofted lob that left Garcia flailing.
Garcia needed her finest serves to save breakpoints in the first and ninth games; by contrast, despite serving second, Martic conceded only four points behind her delivery through the first 12 games.
The ensuing tie-break was a thrilling microcosm of the match as a whole. Momentum shifted back and forth between the pair, and Garcia needed to save one set point at 6/7 before converting her fifth by putting away a short forehand.
Garcia still had to stave off a further two break points at the start of the second set, but that was her last moment of danger. In the next game, she broke Martic to love, sealing the game by rushing forwards off her return and finding a volley winner that clipped the net on its way into the open court.
The Frenchwoman, who fired seven aces among her 33 total winners, would only drop four more points on serve as she maintained her lead through the end of the match.