Sat, Nov 03, 2018 - Page 16 News List

‘Barty pooper’ as Garcia exits Zhuhai despite win

AFP, ZHUHAI, China

France’s Caroline Garcia returns to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in their WTA Elite Trophy round-robin match in Zhuhai, China, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

French No. 1 Caroline Garcia yesterday missed out on a semi-final spot at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China, despite beating Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets.

The 22-year-old won 6-4, 6-4, but because she lost more than seven games to the Belarussian, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty scraped through the round-robin group following her win over Garcia on Thursday.

A straight-sets win, or even a loss in three sets, would have been enough for 20-year-old Sabalenka, but the tournament’s youngest player joins Garcia in being eliminated from the tournament.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Garcia told reporters. “After yesterday’s match I wanted to win today, but I was not really thinking about qualifying for the semi-final.”

Barty’s 6-3, 6-4 win over Garcia means the French star ended up bottom of the group of three.

“I’m happy with the win,” she said. “I was solid; it was much better than yesterday. It’s still a win, but it’s a disappointment to finish third.”

The fans at the Hengqin International Tennis Center witnessed a tense encounter between third seed Sabalenka and eighth seed Garcia, with both players showing signs of frustration at times.

Garcia needed to hold her nerve to take the first set.

Serving at 5-4 up, she faced three break points at 0-40 down, but managed to claw back to clinch the set.

She continued that momentum into the second set, immediately breaking Sabalenka’s first service game, and it felt like the world No. 18 could qualify for the semi-finals.

However, that chance was snatched away as Sabalenka crucially won a service game to make it 5-4, although Garcia sealed the match in the following game.

Barty joins Germany’s Julia Goerges in today’s semi-finals, while Garbine Muguruza defeated Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) to become the third player to qualify.

Madison Keys, Daria Kasatkina and Wang Qiang could still qualify from the final group.

Keys would go through if she could beat China’s Wang in straight sets later yesterday.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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