Caroline Garcia romped home to a straight-set win in the final of the Tianjin Open, beating Karolina Pliskova to clinch the title. She won 7-6, 6-3 to win her first WTA title of the year.
It is not often the top two seeds meet in the final of a tournament in recent times, given how competitive the WTA tour has been lately. However, as faith would have it, that is what we got at the Tianjin Open today as the top seed Pliskova met the second seed Garcia.
Pliskova had already won a couple of titles for the year so far, while Garcia’s best finish were her semi-finals appearances at Stuttgart and Madrid.
Heading into the final Pliskova would have been most people’s favourites.
However, it was the Saint-German-en-Laye born player that took the final 7-6(7), 6-3 and finally break her duck this year.
This match lasted roughly an hour and forty minutes, however, the first set alone went on for over an hour of play, and the fact that it was finished in two sets tells a story of it’s own.
The first four games went to serve, and then Garcia managed to completely dominate her opponents serve in the fifth game, using her powerful ground-strokes to give herself three points to break.
Pliskova, however, as a former world number one, used here guile and tactical serves, to eventually overcome those difficulties and hold on to her serve and go up 3-2.
It was a sign of things to come later on though. The ladies continued to trade blows, with the forehand of both players being a key component in the match.
The final eventually went to a tie break, as the players could not be separated in the set, despite some close calls for a break of serve for both.
As mentioned before, Garcia had not won a singles title for 2018 so far, and after the first six points of the first set tie break, she might have began to think it was not going to happen in China either.
The eighth ranked Pliskova raced to a 5-1 lead in the tie break and it seemed she would take the first set and be well on her way to confirming her place at the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore next week.
Garcia won both her points to make the score respectable at 3-5, and with Pliskova having the first set on her serve, it was expected that with her having one of the most powerful on the tour, she would close it out here and then.
That would not be the case though. A couple of errors from the Czech player’s backhand and suddenly it was all even at 5-5.
She still had the chance to win the opening set at 6-5, but was induced into an error by the French woman’s powerful return, and we were tied again.
Garcia completed the comeback in the first set, by winning it with a textbook volley, and it was great to see some pure attacking tennis on display in this era of baseline battles.
Pliskova, unfortunately for her, seemed to crumble after the first set meltdown, as Garcia, this time acting the role as the front runner. The eighth ranked player, herself went up 5-1 in the second set, and was serving for the title.
The Czech, tried to reverse the comeback of the tie break, as she broke Garcia’s serve, held onto her next service game, and she was now at 3-5, just one break down.
However, Garcia would not be denied a second time, as this time, playing with a bit more of a relaxed mood, she hit a ferocious forehand winner to give herself her first match point.
Not wanting to waste this opportunity again, she showed her own prowess with her serve, by rifling an ace past Pliskova, to take the set, the match and her first title of 2018.
She was overcome by the sheer happiness and probably some relief as well by the occasion, as she hit the ground at the Tianjin International Tennis Center.
She thus became the fifth winner in the fifth year of Tianjin Open and it was her sixth title overall on the WTA tour, and she had to do it the hard way.