Unseeded Caroline Garcia of France won her second title in as many weeks yesterday as she stunned new world No. 1 Simona Halep in the closely fought final of the China Open.
Garcia is in the form of her life and edged out the Romanian second seed 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) to add the China Open to the Wuhan Open title she lifted last weekend, making it five WTA crowns in all.
Garcia’s feat was all the more remarkable, because she was carrying a leg injury that has required frequent on-court treatment and completed a mammoth three-set quarter-final win well past midnight on Friday.
The 23-year-old, who is set to rise from No. 15 to No. 9 in the world, sank to her knees on the hard court when she finally sealed victory in the second-set tie break.
“I was like, seriously, this really happened?” Garcia said, asked what was in her mind when she slumped to her knees.
“It was such an amazing two weeks, it went so fast, I have the feeling I started these tournaments yesterday or two days ago,” she said. “Even this morning I couldn’t believe I was in the final.”
With rain teeming down outside ahead of what turned out to be a cracker, a leak in the Diamond Court stadium roof had threatened to dampen proceedings.
However, that was soon fixed and there was little between the two players until Garcia broke Halep in the 10th game to grab the first set.
In the men’s final yesterday, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal won his sixth title of another remarkable year as he punished a disgruntled Nick Kyrgios.
The 31-year-old Spaniard was never really in trouble against the temperamental Australian in a 6-2, 6-1 rout in 92 minutes on Beijing’s outside hard courts.
David Goffin atoned for his defeat in the Japan Open final last year by winning it yesterday, beating Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-5.
The victory extended Goffin’s winning streak to nine matches, including four in Shenzhen last week when he won his first title in more than three years.
The Belgian stands at No. 8 in the ATP Race to London rankings. With the injured Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka ruled out, 10th place will be good enough to secure a place at the end-of-season showpiece.
The Frenchman posted his first victory over a top-five opponent when defeating Marin Cilic in the semi-finals. As in that match, he gained a foothold in the middle of the second set, breaking Goffin to lead 4-2.
However, Goffin immediately broke back, and again in the 11th game before serving out to love for the title.
“I’ve been serving well for a few weeks,” Goffin said. “During the rallies he was hitting the ball really flat, and that combined with the surface meant the bounce was really low. It was tough on the legs to stay with him in the rallies.”
Goffin has 33 hard-court wins this year, joint-top on the tour with Rafael Nadal, who played the China Open final later yesterday.
In the doubles final, Japan Davis Cup duo Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama surprised hot favorites Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-4, 7-6 (1).
Jared Donaldson of the US yesterday scored an early birthday present in beating Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 6-4 in the Shanghai Masters first round.
Donaldson, who turns 21 today, saved all eight break points he faced. He broke Cuevas’ serve once in each of the last two sets.
The 56th-ranked Donaldson plans to celebrate his birthday by going to Disney Shanghai, before experiencing a first career meeting against Nadal in the second round.
“I want to get a picture with Mickey, Pluto the dog and Daffy Duck,” Donaldson said, laughing.
On a less light note, Donaldson said of playing Nadal: “You want to play against the best and see how your game stacks up. Playing against someone like Rafa is really special. If I lose, it will allow me to know what was my game lacking, what I need to improve on to beat guys like him.”
Gilles Simon of France, a 2014 Shanghai finalist, posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over Chinese wildcard Wu Yibing, who won the US Open junior boys’ title last month.
In a qualifying round, Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 4-6.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
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