Tennis: Garcia makes Cincinnati history despite rain delays

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 21 2022 09:38 AM

Caroline Garcia of France in action during the women's singles final match against Ana Bogdan of Romania at the WTA BNP Paribas Poland Open tennis tournament in Warsaw, Poland, 31 July 2022. Leszek Szymanski, EPA-EFE.
Caroline Garcia of France in action during the women's singles final match against Ana Bogdan of Romania at the WTA BNP Paribas Poland Open tennis tournament in Warsaw, Poland, 31 July 2022. Leszek Szymanski, EPA-EFE.

CINCINNATI -- French qualifier Caroline Garcia survived two rain breaks and advanced to the WTA and ATP Cincinnati Masters final on Saturday by defeating Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

Garcia will play for the title on Sunday against Czech Petra Kvitova, who constructed a 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-3 comeback triumph over American Madison Keys.

Garcia is the first qualifier to ever reach the championship match at a Masters tournament.

Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon winner who played the semi-finals in 2012 and 2018, will be aiming for her 30th career title in her first Cincinnati final.

Garcia maintained control over sixth seed Sabalenka in their contest, where the weather interruptions totaled four hours.

She broke six times in a match comprising two hours of actual play.

"What a day it has been," number 35 Garcia said. "Last night I was excited to be in the semi-finals.

"Aryna is a difficult opponent, so fast, so strong. We had a lot of very tough rallies and tough weather. You never knew when you would be coming back to the court -- but we managed it."

The pair returned after the second interruption and played out three more games as Garcia finished off the victory.

"No one would have expected this to happen," she said. "It feels great. I've had a long journey in Cincinnati.

"I'm proud of what I did and I'm happy to be in the final."

Kvitova, 32, needed two hours and 20 minutes to eliminate Keys.

"It was an incredible match. I expected it to be tough -- but not this tough," Kvitova said. "I got emotional at the end, the match was mentally so tough."

She will make a return to the ranking top-20 after finishing with 24 winners and 16 unforced errors.

"I have no idea how I came back," Kvitova said. "In the beginning I lost my serve with three double faults, and it wasn't really good.

"Sometimes it happens, one weak game. I came back somehow, the tiebreak was just very, very close.

"I just stayed there and tried to play until the end of every point. It was an incredible battle.

Kvitova, ranked 28th and winner of 29 WTA titles, lost the opening set after nearly an hour to her American opponent, the 2019 Cincinnati champion.

But the Czech struck back with two breaks in the second set and began the third with another as she turned the tables.

Kvitova recovered from 0-40 down in her last service game before breaking Keys for victory on a third match point as the American returned wide.

Kvitova was competing in her 63rd career semi-final and moved into her 12th final at the Masters level. She now stands 5-4 in her series with Keys.

"I don't think I've experienced many matches like this," Kvitova said. "We didn't really miss, I don't think we did anything badly in the end."

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