Many tennis fans constantly look forward and towards a new generation of stars that will pick up the mantle and become a consistent Top 10 player when Serena eventually closes the door on her illustrious career. One name that I don’t think has been mentioned as much as it should is France’s Caroline Garcia.
Garcia has been on the radar of women’s tennis for a while now, since her performance against Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros in 2011, where she took Sharapova to three sets. Last year in Madrid, the French woman even pushed Sharapova to 5-7 in the third, and further showed her star quality on the big stage; but the main issue for the talent that Garcia possesses is backing up relatively important results. Another of the problematic features to this bright, young star is her inability to get over the line in these big match ups, which is never easy regardless of the plethora of talent there is on the WTA tour.
Garcia has had some very tight mental letdowns in important moments in her young, blossoming career, losing matches she should have won in Roland Garros against Donna Vekic, against Heather Watson at Wimbledon, and another heartbreaking loss at Flushing Meadows to Andrea Petkovic in a three hour battle. That’s one area where the World #34 really needs to improve in 2016 and beyond, as she finds the right consistency to reach the potential that some are touting her to achieve. For almost any player to go deep at Grand Slam level it requires achieving one or two very big results, which Garcia is capable of, but her shortcomings lie where she struggles to get over the finishing line. That will come with age and experience.
When looking at the positive aspects of Garcia’s game, she is a positive player who plays to win, but finding that balance of going for her shots and reining in that array of shot-making will make or break whether she becomes a Top 10 or even a permanent Top 20 fixture in the future. Many young, good prospects–like Madison Keys for instance–are examples of players that have great power and presence on a tennis court with serve and forehand combinations, but still struggle to rally and sometimes find differentiating ways to earn points. The additional and alternative ways for Garcia to win points could elevate her to the next level, and although Garcia’s biggest problem lies in the mental aspect of the game, she could also reap great benefits from using tennis as an education and finding different ways and avenues to salvaging her points.
Another question mark is whether Garcia requires additional support, maybe from a former professional, to take her to even greater heights. That’s without taking away anything that her father, Louis Paul, has successfully done with her in the past; he has given her the platform to call herself a former Top 25 player and an already successful doubles player. The addition of a mental coach could be a feasible and realistic approach for someone like Garcia, where the appointment would not only show intent, but also identify the one flaw in a great tennis game.
Garcia is on the verge of a real breakthrough on the WTA tour. Her results in singles have improved with her end of the season culminating with a win in Limoges and it can be argued that one major result at Grand Slam level could ascend Garcia into the Top 20 for the first time in her career.