Caroline Garcia Helps Lead France Into United Cup Semifinals

Caroline Garcia has single-(and double-)handedly helped lead France to the United Cup semifinals.

The 30-year-old half-Spanish French tennis player and compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin beat Ulrikke Eikeri and Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday to end a tie that stretched nearly 6½ hours.

Caroline GarciaWith the deciding mixed doubles match victory, France defeated Norway to set up a United Cup semifinal against top-seeded Poland.

The first set was a tight affair until France broke serve to make it 6-5 before holding to win the opener and then made the only break in the second set for a 2-1 lead.

Ruud forced the quarterfinal to a decider by downing Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-4 after Garcia put France up 1-0 by edging Malene Helgo 6-2, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5).

Garcia, ranked 20th and the 2022 WTA Finals champion, had to work for more than 2½ hours against 544th-ranked Helgo.

“It was a crazy match, a crazy performance from Helgo,” Garcia said. “I didn’t know her very well, and she just played a crazy match, was hitting the ball so well.”

Ruud outclassed Mannarino in the men’s singles.

“I don’t think I faced a break point,” Ruud said. “So that’s great for my standards of serving … and putting Norway back on the board.”

The final on Sunday is at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.

Beatriz Haddad Maia Defeats Zheng Qinwen to Win WTA Elite Trophy

Beatriz Haddad Maia has another title under her belt…

The 27-year-old Brazilian professional tennis player has claimed her third career WTA tour title by defeating seventh-seeded Zheng Qinwen 7-6 (11), 7-6 (4) to win the WTA Elite Trophy on Sunday.

Beatriz Haddad MaiaHaddad Maia, the eighth seed, needed 2 hours, 51 minutes to edge past Zheng in a tight battle, which ended the top Chinese player’s win streak at eight matches.

The 19th-ranked Haddad Maia maintained her perfect record this week with her fourth consecutive straight-sets victory. Her semifinal win over 17th-ranked Daria Kasatkina followed her opening upset victory over second-seeded Madison Keys and then Caroline Garcia to win the group.

It’s Haddad Maia’s first title on hard courts and first since Birmingham in 2022.

Her performance in Zhuhai was a welcome return to form for the 2023 French Open semifinalist who had only one win in three previous tournaments as part of the tour’s Asia swing.

Zheng, who won the Zhengzhou Open this month and the gold medal at the Asian Games in September, was just the second Chinese player to make the final of the WTA Elite Trophy after Wang Qiang finished runner-up to former world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in 2018.

The 12-player tournament was the first postseason event on the women’s tour. It featured the 11 highest-ranked singles players who did not qualify for next month’s WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico. Zhu Lin, whom Zheng beat in the semifinals, was the final entry as a wild card.

Beatriz Haddad Maia Defeats Daria Kasatkina to Reach WTA Elite Trophy Final

Beatriz Haddad Maia is heading to her first final of the year…

The 27-year-old Brazilian professional tennis player, the eighth seed, defeated sixth-seeded Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-1 on Saturday to reach the WTA Elite Trophy final.

Beatriz Haddad Maia19th-ranked Haddad Maia maintained her perfect record this week with her third consecutive straight-sets victory.

The 93-minute win over the 17th-ranked Kasatkina followed her opening upset victory over second-seeded Madison Keys and then Caroline Garcia to win the group.

Haddad Maia’s victory came on the back of her strong serve as she won 80% of her first-service points and never faced a break point against the Russian player.

She’ll face China’s top player Zheng Qinwen in the final.

Qinwen prevailed against compatriot Zhu Lin 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to become just the second Chinese player to make the final of the WTA Elite Trophy.

The 12-player tournament is the first postseason event on the women’s tour. It features the 11 highest-ranked singles players who did not qualify for next month’s WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico. Zhu was the final entry as a wild card.

Leylah Fernandez to Make Debut at Upcoming United Cup Mixed Team Event

United Leylah Fernandez stands…

The 21-year-old half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis player will take part in the new-look United Cup mixed team event in Perth and Sydney from December 29 to January 7 as one of the key warm-up tournaments for the Australian Open.

Leylah FernandezFernandez, who will be paired up with compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime, will compete for the first time as she represents her home country.

France, the No. 4 seed, will be led by part-Spanish French tennis player Caroline Garcia and Adrian Mannarino.

Team Poland, led by world No. 2 and four-time Grand Slam champion Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, has been named as the top seed for the 2024 edition after the entries from the top 16 countries were released by Tennis Australia.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari will lead No.2-seeded Greece, with the defending champion United States, featuring Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz, seeded third. Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova will headline the Czech Republic team alongside Jiri Lehecka while Croatia rounds out the top six, featuring Borna Coric and Donna Vekic.

China’s Qinwen Zheng and Zhizhen Zhang and the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor and Arantxa Rus will also compete for the first time.

Serbia will be led by Novak Djokovic and Olga Danilovic.

Other entries include Norway’s Casper Ruud, Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber and Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

Each team will consist of men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed doubles.

The Australian Open is scheduled for Melbourne Park from January 14-28.

Carlos Alcaraz Earns No. 1 Seed at Wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz is heading into the All England Club as the top seed…

The 20-year-old Spanish tennis player, not four-time defending champion Novak Djokovic was seeded No. 1 for Wimbledon on Wednesday, as expected, because the All England Club adhered to the ATP and WTA rankings.

Carlos AlcarazAlcaraz overtook Djokovic atop the men’s standings on Monday. Djokovic hasn’t played since collecting his men’s record 23rd Grand Slam title at the French Open on June 11 and slid to No. 2, while Alcaraz rose one spot after winning a grass-court tuneup tournament at Queen’s Club on Sunday.

Djokovic has won the championship at Wimbledon each of the past four times it was held — and seven times overall — but he did not benefit from a ranking boost in 2022 because the ATP and WTA withheld all points to protest the All England Club’s decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine.

Those athletes are allowed to compete this year, and Russian player Daniil Medvedev is seeded No. 3 in the men’s field.

The draw to set up the singles brackets will be Friday. The tournament begins Monday.

Casper Ruud is No. 4 of the 32 men’s seeds, followed by Stefanos TsitsipasHolger RuneJannik SinnerTaylor Fritz and Frances TiafoeNick Kyrgios, the runner-up to Djokovic at Wimbledon a year ago, is seeded 31st.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is ranked 39th and is not seeded.

Swiatek has been ranked No. 1 since April 2022 and owns four Grand Slam titles, most recently at the French Open. She has never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon.

In the women’s field, Iga Swiatek is the No. 1 seed, while Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

Elena Rybakina, the 2022 women’s champion at the All England Club, is No. 3 among the women’s 32 seeds, followed by Jessica PegulaCaroline Garcia, Ons Jabeur, Coco Gauff, Maria Sakkari, two-time champion Petra Kvitova and Barbora Krejcikova.

From 2002 to 2019, the All England Club based its seedings for the men’s draw on a formula that took into account results on grass at Wimbledon and elsewhere. But after that, the tournament opted to simply follow the rankings to determine all seeds.

Carlos Alcaraz Returns to No. 1 in ATP World Rankings, Expected to Earn No. 1 Seed at Wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz is officially back on top…

The 20-year-old Spanish tennis player has replaced Novak Djokovic at No. 1 in the ATP rankings, meaning he’s expected to have the top seeding at Wimbledon.

Carlos AlcarazAlcaraz, the reigning US Open champion, is coming off the first grass-court title of his career, which he won on Sunday by beating Alex De Minaur in the final at Queen’s Club in London, and that helped him rise one spot from No. 2.

Djokovic, who picked up his men’s-record 23rd Grand Slam title at the French Open this month, chose not to play any tune-up tournaments on grass ahead of Wimbledon and slid down one place.

It is the sixth time the No. 1 ranking has switched in 2023, the most since it happened seven times in 2018.

Play begins at Wimbledon on Monday, July 3.

The All England Club will announce the men’s and women’s seeds Wednesday and is expected to simply follow the ATP and WTA rankings for those 32 berths in each 128-player singles draw. That would put Alcaraz and the leading woman, Iga Swiatek, in the top line of each bracket.

Swiatek remained at No. 1 — as she has for every week since first climbing to that position in April 2022 — on Monday, a little more than two weeks after she won the French Open for the third time. Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka kept her hold on No. 2, and defending Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina is at No. 3. Jessica Pegula moved up to No. 4, switching with new No. 5 Caroline Garcia.

Wimbledon’s seedings used to be based on a formula that took into account players’ recent success there and at other events contested on grass courts. But with only the rankings mattering now, there is the unusual situation of even last year’s results at the All England Club not mattering — because the ATP and WTA chose to withhold all rankings points that would have been earned at Wimbledon in 2022 to protest the club’s decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine.

That war continues, but the club is allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete this time.

Djokovic has won Wimbledon each of the past four times it was held — in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022; the tournament was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic — and seven times in all.

“I mean, Novak is the main favorite to win Wimbledon. That’s obvious,” Alcaraz said. “But I will try to play at this level, to have chances to beat him or make the final at Wimbledon.”

If they are indeed seeded Nos. 1 and 2, Alcaraz and Djokovic could meet only in the championship match on July 16. At Roland Garros, Alcaraz was the No. 1 seed at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time; Djokovic was No. 3, and they were drawn to meet in the semifinals. The first two sets were terrific, but then Alcaraz faded because of full-body cramps he attributed, at least in part, to tension, and Djokovic took the last two sets 6-1, 6-1 on the way to the trophy.

There was no other major change in the men’s rankings Monday, with Daniil Medvedev still at No. 3, followed by Casper Ruud at No. 4 and Stefanos Tsitsipas at No. 5. Taylor Fritz, who is from California, and Frances Tiafoe, who is from Maryland, were at Nos. 9-10, remaining the first pair of American men in the top 10 in more than a decade.

Beatriz Haddad Maia Becomes First Brazilian Woman to Reach Top 10 of the WTA Rankings

Beatriz Haddad Maia’s French Open dream run may have fallen short of a title, but it still lead to a piece of history.

The 27-year-old Brazilian professional tennis player has become the first Brazilian woman to reach the top 10 of the WTA rankings after reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros.

Beatriz Haddad MaiaHaddad Maia beat Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the quarterfinals in Paris to become the first Brazilian woman in 55 years to reach a Grand Slam semifinal.

She was beaten by eventual champion Iga Swiatek.

Brazilian women’s tennis has had precious little success since the days of Maria Bueno, who won seven Grand Slam titles between 1959 and 1966 — long before the WTA rankings were introduced in 1975.

Three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten reached No. 1 in the men’s ATP rankings in 2000.

Haddad Maia will take a ranking of No. 10 into the grass-court season in which she impressed last year and will feature in this week’s Nottingham Open as buildup to Wimbledon begins.

Swiatek, who won her third career French Open title Saturday, and Aryna Sabalenka remained at Nos. 1-2 in the rankings, while Elena Rybakina and Caroline Garcia each moved up one spot to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. American Jessica Pegula rounded out the top five.

Caroline Garcia Defeats Aryna Sabalenka to Claim WTA Finals Crown

Caroline Garcia has claimed the biggest singles title of her career…

The 29-year-old half-Spanish French tennis player 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.

Caroline GarciaThe 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.

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. She 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. Sabalenka was trying to become the first player from her country to win the WTA Finals.

There was only one break point in a meeting of the tour (Garcia) and tournament (Sabalenka) leaders in aces coming into the match.

Garcia converted that break point in the first game of the second set while handing No. 7 Sabalenka just her third loss in 12 career hard-court finals on the temporary indoor court at Dickies Arena.

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.

“It was a lot of aces, sometimes not too many rallies,” Garcia told the crowd. “But that’s our game style, and I hope you enjoyed it.”

Garcia matched Sabalenka’s power from the start in her fourth victory of the season, second only to Swiatek’s eight.

“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.”

Tied in the deciding game, Garcia’s service winner gave her a second match point, and Sabalenka sent a forehand long. Garcia dropped to the court on her back with her arms raised.

Caroline Garcia Defeats Maria Sakkari to Advance to Her First WTA Finals Championship Match

Caroline Garcia is one win away from the biggest title of her career…

The 29-year-old part-Spanish French tennis player, who reached the WTA Finals semifinals five years ago, has taken it to the next level.

Caroline Garcia,Garcia defeated in-form Maria Sakkari, 6-3, 6-2, on Sunday to reach the biggest final of her career against Aryna Sabalenka.

“I’m five years older and maybe five years wiser,” she quipped on court after the match. “You try to learn from everything. We got some tough experiences the last couple years, but I’ve got a big team behind me and supporting me, staying positive even when I was negative about myself. It’s definitely a great year. A lot of things happened that I didn’t think would happen!”

The former world No. 4 dealt with years of injuries and inconsistencies following her 2017 peak, but made a steady-to-meteoric rise in 2022. She won three titles to return to the world’s Top 8 and at last fulfill her presaged potential with a 75-minute win on the WTA Finals Stadium Court, striking 21 winners and six aces.

As an unheralded teenager, she famously earned a ringing endorsement from Andy Murray as he watched Garcia nearly stun Maria Sharapova at the 2011 French Open, and as she has unconsciously spent her career striving to meet Murray’s lofty prediction, the tennis world has long swung from earnest to derisive in its repetition of that sporting myth.

Garcia never looked farther from that goal post at the start of this season when she took an extended absence to heal niggling injuries, but she emerged a fresh, hyper-aggressive athlete who took the racquet out of opponents’ hands. The dividends were small at first, earning her a pair of WTA 250 titles in the summer, but it all came together just before the US Open—ironically when she last played Sakkari.

Garcia was ranked No. 79 in May; she is tentatively set to end the season at her career-high of No. 4.

Garcia has typically met her Greek rival under auspicious circumstances; in their two previous meetings, the Frenchwoman has gone on to win the tournament—most recently at the Western & Southern Open, where she won her first WTA 1000 title since 2017.

The Cincy surge brought Garcia’s 2022 to another level, setting the stage for a first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open, and though the fall initially brought more mixed fortunes, she was able to peak again for her first WTA Finals appearance in five years. Garcia shook off a shock split with Perret to win two of her three round-robin matches, including a three-set epic against No. 8 seed Daria Kasatkina to confirm her berth in the semifinals, and showed no signs of fatigue from the onset against Sakkari, breaking first in the opening set.

“Yesterday, I was obviously a little bit tired, but nothing unusual after such a big match,” she said. “This morning, the legs were a little big heavy but I was just so excited about the emotions and the win of yesterday, and just to be playing a semifinal of the WTA Finals. I was just so excited and feeling very pumped. I spoke to my physio and said, ‘I just hope I last long enough to get to the match!'”

Sakkari had been even more impressive in her second straight WTA Finals appearance, even if it took until the last week of the season to book her ticket to Fort Worth. The two-time Grand Slam semifinalist won all three of her round-robin matches in straight sets, inspired by the slow Dickies Arena court to employ her most aggressive style.

But in a battle of aggressive players, Garcia will almost always win; she strikes an intimidating pose on both serve and return, stepping deep into the court for the latter. Though Sakkari briefly got the match back on serve, Sakkari struck back with another break at love and won seven of the next eight games to lead by a set and two breaks.

As Sakkari struggled to get on the board, the nerves that have so often haunted Garcia in big matches threatened to crop up when a double fault pulled up break point. Refusing to abandon her game plan, the 2022 Ace Leader went just as big on the next serve and struck a backhand down the line to move within a game of the final.

No such nerves returned when it came time to serve for the match: she crashed the net to bring up three match points and though Sakkari saved one with a backhand winner, Garcia pressed one last error from the No. 5 seed to earn her spot in the final.

Caroline Garcia Defeats Coco Gauff at US Open to Reach First-Ever Grand Slam Semifinal

Caroline Garcia is celebrating a special first…

The 28-year-old part-Spanish French tennis player defeated Coco Gauff 6-3, 6-4 at the US Open to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.

Caroline GarciaGarcia, the tournament’s 17th seed, produced a clinical display to beat the 18-year-old 12th seed.

The in-form Garcia has yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows, with this her 13th successive win in a streak that included her claiming her first WTA 1000 win in five years at Cincinnati.

In only her second major quarterfinal – and first since the 2017 French Open – Garcia immediately put Gauff on the back foot on Arthur Ashe Stadium and rarely relented.

Making her 42nd Grand Slam appearance, Garcia unsettled her opponent and subdued the home crowd with a fast start in which she quickly established a 4-0 lead with a second break of serve.

Contesting her first quarterfinal at her home Slam, Gauff hit back in the fifth game but the damage had already been done. Garcia punched the air as she went on to clinch her first set point on serve after 45 minutes.

The teenager was bidding to become the youngest American woman to reach the last four in New York since Serena Williams did so aged 17 in 1999.

However, her task was made even tougher as she lost her serve in the opening game of the second set.

Willed on by the crowd, Gauff – set to make her top-10 debut after the tournament – saved two break points when trailing 3-1 but crucially she was unable to take an opportunity of her own in the following game.

Garcia dropped her racquet and held her hands up in disbelief as Gauff netted on the first match point to make her the first Frenchwoman to reach the last four since Amelie Mauresmo in 2006.

Garcia will meet Ons Jabeur for a place in the US Open final.