"I stayed focused, I knew that she was not going to give me the match, I stayed calm and that was the most important thing," France's Caroline Garcia had told the U.S. Open web at last year's Pandemic plagued slam.
She captured a 2nd round win over Karolina Pliskova last year, but she absolutely proved her mantra this year. She won in dramatic style over the determined Brit Harriet Dart 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 in the crowd filled U.S. Open and is loving it.
Garcia had lost the opening set in a tiebreak and made a tremendous overturn as she sealed the second set with 6-4. She didn't want to go down and out at the last slam of the season and the third set proved strong as she grabbed a 2-0 lead.
The crowd was indeed behind the Frenchwoman as they applauded her every effort at winning points. She allowed Dart the first game when she led 5-1, gaining confidence and support from fans sitting in the sun drenching stands.
"Come on Caroline," you'd hear the crowd say as more fans joined in. There might have been some moments in the second set that Garcia just simply knew she had to dig in and stay aggressive. It was her ten years on tour and prior up and down experiences present in her mind that made her gather he composure nicely and do the darn thing.
Slams can either build up your mental endurance or bring it down. The last major, Wimbledon might not have been a picnic for the Frenchwoman when she bowed at the opener against Jessica Pegula, a young woman coming into her own and able to blast the top and bottom rankers in her surprising fashion.
Garcia also only squeezed into the second round of her home country at the French Open and was defeated by Polona Hercoq, a lady with many touring years of her own. Caroline did go the distance at the Ladies Open Lausanne in France at the semifinals but fell to her French comrade Clara Burel.
Garcia has endured criticism when she gave her doubles play 'a miss' to concentrate on elevating her singles game and bit by bit it has been paying off for the smiley Frenchwoman with the 'I'm flying' mantra.
When she flew into the Big Apple to play the slam, it appears that she wanted to take a defiant bite at going deep again. If she can continue to keep being feisty and maintain her composure, this New York slam will be enjoyable.
Next, Garcia will face Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, a player fresh off of a semifinal berth at the Tokyo Games. They've met three years ago at the St. Petersburg event with the Russian coming out as the winner. Can Caroline Garcia level the odds at this upcoming match? Stay tuned for it might be a tight but successful game for the Frenchwoman whose confidence keeps flying high.