Cowboy Up: Garcia wins WTA Finals over Sabalenka in Texas

Nov 7, 2022, 6:05 AM | Updated: 10:13 pm
Caroline Garcia, of France, celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the singles ...

Caroline Garcia, of France, celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the singles final at the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

              Caroline Garcia, of France, celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the singles final at the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, hits against Caroline Garcia, of France, in the singles final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Caroline Garcia, of France, celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the singles final at the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, reacts during her match against Caroline Garcia, of France, in the singles final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Caroline Garcia, right, of France, holds the trophy after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, left, of Belarus, in the singles final at the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Katerina Siniakova, top, of the Czech Republic, hits over doubles partner Barbora Krejcikova, bottom, also of the Czech Republic, in the final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament against Veronika Kudermetova, of Russia, and Elise Mertens, of Belgium, in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Katerina Siniakova, left, talks with doubles partner Barbora Krejcikova, right, both of the Czech Republic, in the final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament against Veronika Kudermetova, of Russia, and Elise Mertens, of Belgium, in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Barbora Krejcikova, top left, of the Czech Republic, hits behind doubles partner Katerina Siniakova, right, also of the Czech Republic, in the final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament against Elise Mertens, bottom left, of Belgium, and Veronika Kudermetova, of Russia, in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Veronika Kudermetova, left, of Russia, high-fives doubles partner Elise Mertens, right, of Belgium, in the final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament against Barbora Krejcikova, and Katerina Siniakova, both of the Czech Republic, in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, hits against Caroline Garcia, of France, in the singles final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Caroline Garcia, of France, hits against Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the singles final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, reacts during her match against Caroline Garcia, of France, in the singles final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
            
              Caroline Garcia, of France, pumps her fist during her match against Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the singles final of the WTA Finals tennis tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Caroline Garcia plopped on a cowboy hat to go with the trophy she was holding after telling fans she had enjoyed her first trip to Texas.

There was plenty for the Frenchwoman to like in Cowtown.

Garcia took a tight first set and went on to a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over Aryna Sabalenka to win the championship of the WTA Finals on Monday night.

The sixth-ranked Garcia became the second player from France to win the season-ending event after Amelie Mauresmo in 2005, also the last time the WTA Finals were held in the U.S.

Tied in the deciding game of a match with just one break point, Garcia’s service winner gave her a second chance to close it out. When Sabalenka sent a forehand long, Garcia dropped to the court on her back and put clenched fists over her eyes.

“It’s definitely a lot of joy and happiness,” Garcia said told reporters about an hour later, cowboy hat still on and with the trophy on a table just to her left. “It’s been a crazy, crazy final, a lot of intensity on every single point from the beginning.”

The event was moved to Texas from China over concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai, a Grand Slam doubles champion who accused a former government official there of sexual assault. Coronavirus restrictions also played a part in the decision.

Garcia won her last six sets after dropping the first in a winner-take-all match against Daria Kasatkina in group play. The 29-year-old is the oldest WTA Finals winner since Serena Williams at 33 in 2014.

The only player to win titles on all three surfaces this season, Garcia was just as comfortable as Sabalenka on the temporary indoor hard court at Dickies Arena near downtown Fort Worth.

As a result, Garcia handed the No. 7 player from Belarus just her third loss in 12 career hard-court finals. The 24-year-old Sabalenka was trying to become the first from her country to win the WTA Finals.

“We did know that we were two powerful players, and I think we played that way,” Garcia said. “Just very happy about the mindset.”

The first set went to a tiebreaker without a break of serve in a meeting of the tour (Garcia) and tournament (Sabalenka) leaders in aces coming into the match.

Garcia won six consecutive points in the tiebreaker, capped by her 10th ace of the first set for a 6-2 lead. Sabalenka’s third double fault ended the set. Garcia finished with 11 aces to four for Sabalenka.

Two break chances came quickly in the first game of the second set, but Garcia only needed one. She ripped a forehand winner down the line on Sabalenka’s serve to go in front for good.

“I just dropped my level for a little bit on the tiebreak and in the first game of the second set,” Sabalenka said. “That was the key moments.”

Sabalenka reached the title match by beating top-ranked Iga Swiatek. That semifinal victory ended a 15-match winning streak against top-10 opponents that was the longest on tour in 35 years.

Going into the WTA Finals, Garcia was the only entrant in the eight-player field to beat Swiatek — but was ranked 45th when she did it at the Poland Open in July. Garcia went on to her best Grand Slam finish, reaching the semifinals at the U.S. Open.

“I’m impressed with what she’s done this season,” Sabalenka said. “I think there’s many more finals for her. Hopefully we’ll play against each other in the finals, and hopefully I will win the next one.”

Garcia’s fourth victory of the season, second only to Swiatek’s eight, came in the second 6-7 meeting in WTA Finals history. The other was Maria Sharapova-Serena Williams in 2004.

Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens beat defending champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 4-6, 11-9 to win the doubles title.

Kudermetova and Mertens won six consecutive points after falling behind 7-2 in the champions tiebreaker before closing things out on their second match point.

Krejcikova and Siniakova were trying to finish off a dominant season that included titles at all three of the Grand Slam events in which they competed. It was just the fourth loss of the season for the Czech duo, which was trying to become the seventh doubles team to defend a WTA Finals championship.

Kudermetova and Mertens avenged a loss to Krejcikova and Siniakova in the Australian Open semifinals.

Mertens is a three-time major winner in doubles, including the 2019 U.S. Open and 2021 Australian Open with Sabalenka.

___

AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole (3) changes direction while defended by Chicago Bulls forw...
Associated Press

Poole scores 30 points with seven 3s off bench, Warriors win

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Draymond Green is healthy and back to his elite level of doing a bit of everything on both ends, even leading the offense with the second unit. He just missed his first triple-double of the season. Green is regularly knocking down 3-pointers, too. Jordan Poole also found his groove from beyond […]
23 hours ago
Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard, left, guards against Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) dur...
Associated Press

Markkanen, Kessler help Jazz overwhelm Pacers 139-119

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 139-119 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Rookie center Walker Kessler scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-7 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds for Utah. Jordan Clarkson had 19 points and Collin Sexton […]
23 hours ago
San Diego State forward Jaedon LeDee (13) shoots over Occidental forward Bernard Cassidy (34) durin...
Associated Press

Seiko, No. 24 San Diego St beat Division III Occidental

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Adam Seiko scored 20 points, including six 3s, to lead No. 24 San Diego State over Division III Occidental 95-57 on Friday night. The Aztecs (6-2) hit 19 of 37 shots from 3-point range. They won their second in a row after consecutive defeats to Arizona and Arkansas at the Maui […]
23 hours ago
Utah running back Ja'Quinden Jackson (3) falls into the end zone for a touchdown, next to Southern ...
Associated Press

No. 4 USC falls to Utah in Pac-12, all but ending CFP hope

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Caleb Williams once again was starring in his own highlight video, breaking four tackles and finding himself in the open field for a 59-yard gain. No. 4 Southern California looked as if it would do whatever it wanted against No. 12 Utah and coast into the College Football Playoff. But, Williams […]
23 hours ago
Maryland forward Donta Scott (24) handles the ball against Illinois guard RJ Melendez during the fi...
Associated Press

No. 22 Maryland tops No. 16 Illinois 71-66 to stay unbeaten

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Kevin Willard has already brought the buzz back at Maryland. Jahmir Young scored 24 points, including a crucial 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds remaining that helped the No. 22 Terrapins stay undefeated with a 71-66 victory over No. 16 Illinois on Friday night. As impressive as the win was, the atmosphere […]
23 hours ago
Phoenix Suns guard Landry Shamet drives on Houston Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. (6) during the...
Associated Press

Rockets rally from 16 down to beat Booker, Suns 122-121

PHOENIX (AP) — Jalen Green sccored 30 points to jolt the Houston Rockets’ offense and even managed to slow down the scorching Devin Booker — at least a little. The result was a stunning 122-121 victory over the Phoenix Suns that featured a 16-point comeback in the second half and a white-knuckle final possession that […]
23 hours ago
Cowboy Up: Garcia wins WTA Finals over Sabalenka in Texas