France’s Caroline Garcia scored the biggest victory of her career with a straight sets defeat of Aryna Sabalenka to win the season-ending WTA Finals on Monday.
Garcia relied on a superb service game to overpower her Belarusian opponent 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 at Fort Worth, Texas.
The 29-year-old from Lyon is only the second French player to win the WTA title after Amelie Maursemo in 2005.
With both sixth-seeded Garcia and seventh-seeded Sabalenka serving beautifully throughout, Monday’s final was settled by the finest of margins.
Garcia seized the initiative in the first set tie-break after both women had held to get it 6-6.
Remarkably, neither player conceded a break point during a hard-fought first set.
But the question of who would blink first was answered in the breaker as Sabalenka’s composure suddenly deserted her.
A wayward Sabalenka backhand return plopped into the net to give Garcia a 4/2 lead in the tie-break.
On the next point, Sabalenka double-faulted to hand the Frenchwoman a 5/2 lead.
Garcia brought up four set points with an ace for a 6/2 lead.
Although Sabalenka recovered to win the next two points, she double-faulted again to hand Garcia the set.
A clearly rattled Sabalenka was soon in trouble in the second set, suffering a break on the first game after Garcia drilled a winner up the line.
That break proved decisive as Garcia never looked like surrendering the initiative, holding for the remainder of the set before serving for the match at 5-4.
She earned her first match point when Sabalenka yanked a backhand return wide for a 40-30 lead.
Although Sabalenka saved that match point with a backhand down the line, Garcia regained match point with a booming serve before converting on the next point.