While everyone expected her to sleepwalk towards the title, there was one big threat looming in Iga Swiatek’s Warsaw draw. That player was Caroline Garcia, who won Bad Homburg last month and found confidence in her game that we haven’t seen maybe since the days when she became the World No. 4 with WTA 1000 titles at Wuhan and Beijing. The Frenchwoman defeated Swiatek 6-1 1-6 6-4, advancing to the semifinals where she’ll face Jasmine Paolini.
“I think Caroline played a much more solid match. She put a lot of pressure on me and made it so I had very little time. Especially on clay, where the bounces can be uneven, I didn’t have enough time to correct anything. Against a strong opponent, I felt that I didn’t have enough clay practice. Next year I will decide if the preparations will be longer or if I’ll stay on hard court [after Wimbledon]. I don’t like coming out on the court and having in the back of my mind that I only had two clay practices,” said Swiatek in her post-match press conference.
Garcia started the match all guns bzing, standing inside the baseline to return the Pole’s serve, even her first. In the opening set, she broke Swiatek three times and fired 13 winners to just 4 unforced errors. The number of points finished with a big return Garcia was producing throughout the match was just incredible and it kept the World No. 1 under a lot of pressure.
Story of the match in two photos – Garcia's 1st/2nd serve returning position.
Świątek was the better player whenever the rally went neutral, but needed that tiny bit of space to execute her game, look for an angle, get Caro moving. In her best moments, Garcia didn't give her any pic.twitter.com/3BXZfBmNZx
— Damian Kust (@damiankust) July 29, 2022
Garcia’s 2nd serve was somewhat attackable too and it wasn’t that easy for the Frenchwoman to hold her own serve. That kept Swiatek in it and once she started winning her games in set 2, she quickly leveled the match by testing Garcia’s rally tolerance. The 28-year-old came back even stronger though and while neutral rallies definitely weren’t playing out in her favor, compared to other players with such power, the Frenchwoman is still very good from the ground. On a number of occasions, she fired forehand winners slightly out of position to turn defense into offense.
Swiatek had practiced with Garcia in Warsaw a few days before their match. “We trained and it looked the same. I thought in a match scenario [her return] would be a bit less effective, coming from the fact that you’re much looser during a practice. She had a lot of quality. I have a good second serve and I thought it would do the job, but maybe sometimes I was serving too lightly. I have to admit that she was attacking so well that she was putting extreme pressure on me. It was hard to choose directions well enough to surprise her as she instinctively guessed it right most of the time.”
It was a truly fabulous performance by the 28-year-old and her first-ever win over a reigning World No. 1. Meanwhile, Swiatek will now continue her hard court preparation in order to compete at Toronto, Cincinnati, and the US Open. The tournament’s biggest attraction won’t be there during the weekend and it remains to be seen if the interest of the media and the crowds will persist or not. First impressions aren’t great as many spectators have been trying to sell their tickets for Saturday and Sunday. The forecast with heavy rain all over it won’t help out either.
Embed from Getty Images