Garcia Thriving Before Her French Fans, Again

Caroline Garcia (photo: @WTA_Strasbourg)

STRASBOURG/WASHINGTON, May 24, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Caroline Garcia knows firsthand what it is like to win a title at the Internationaux de Strasbourg in this northeastern French city. The 27-year-old from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, delighted her legion of fans when she lifted the Strasbourg trophy in 2016, one of her seven career singles titles she’s won on the WTA tour.

On Monday, the 57th-ranked Garcia found her public, again – her legion of fans – sitting in the stands of Patrice-Dominguez Court at the Tennis Club de Strasbourg, and they cheered wildly for her as she won 7-5, 6-2 over No. 93 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan. The win advanced Garcia to the second round against No. 5 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, ranked 38th.

Garcia rewarded her faithful with her famous “Fly with Caro” dance to celebrate her victory, something which she hasn’t been able to do in front of anyone for a long time.

“I look forward to stepping out on the court every time,” Garcia told Tennis TourTalk during a virtual interview following her win. “My body and my physical condition are improving from one week to another, which is very good for my confidence. I feel like I can give more energy on court. I’m looking forward to doing well this tournament, and of course next week [at Roland-Garros].”

Garcia hit five aces, won 77 percent (23 of 30) of her first-serve points, saved the only break point she faced and converted four of five break points against Diyas. She outpointed her opponent 63-45 during the one hour and 21-minute match.

When Tennis TourTalk asked Garcia how important it is to her to play well in front of French fans, she said: “It was a great crowd today. Seeing them and their signs motivated me – showed a lot of positive energy – and gave me a lot of energy. It was just what I needed.”

Andreescu’s wins first match on clay in two years

No. 1 seed Bianca Andreescu made her long-awaited return to clay a successful one. The World No. 7 needed just 61 minutes to beat 279th-ranked Spanish qualifier Andrea Lazaro Garcia, 6-1, 6-2.

Andreescu jumped out to a double-break 4-0 lead as she broke the 26-year-old Lazaro Garcia in each of her first two service games and broke in the Spaniard’s final two service games of the match. She won 84 percent (26 of 31) of her first-serve points, saved the only break-point she faced and was five-for-five in break-point conversions. Andreescu outpointed Lazaro Garcia 56-27.

Tennis TourTalk asked Andreescu during a virtual interview what she was most pleased with and what she would like to improve upon now that she’s played her first match on clay since 2019 at Roland-Garros. She said: “Today, I was really blessed. I would put that match in my top five cleanest matches from start to finish. I focused on myself, my game and just how I wanted to go out there and give 100 percent – and play my best. That’s what I did and I want to continue like that every match.

“What I would improve on … nothing really,” she said (smiling). And how long did it take her to remember how to play on clay? “I’m not a big fan of long rallies, but I improved my stamina and my endurance. Only a couple of practices, then I was feeling really good with my game.”

The 20-year-old Canadian’s season has been filled with stops and starts, which included a hard, 14-day quarantine without practice after arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open. This came after Andreescu was off the tour for 15 months while nursing a variety of injuries. Then, she was forced to retire with a foot injury against World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the final of the Miami Open in March. Finally, a positive COVID-19 test sidelined her from competing in either Madrid or Rome earlier this month.

Next, Andreescu will face another qualifier in her second-round match: No. 259 Maryna Zanevska of Belgium, who scored her first WTA main draw win since 2018 with her 6-2, 6-1 win over 280th-ranked qualifier Yuliya Hatouka of Belarus, who was also making her WTA main draw debut.

Monday’s Internationaux de Strasbourg results

Around the Tennis Club de Strasbourg

• No. 4 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan endured a three-hour and 20-marathon with Sweden’s 59th-ranked Rebecca Peterson. Her perseverance paid off for her in the end and rewarded her with 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2) to advance to the second round.

“It was a crazy three hours [and] 20 minutes. I deserve some croissants,” the 43rd-ranked Putintseva said during an on-court interview after her win. “I feel fine. When you’re in the game you don’t feel tired.”

Next, Putintseva will face No. 53 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 77 Anna Blinkova of Russia.

• Also, moving on to the second round were: No. 5 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, who advanced by a 6-3, 3-0 retirement from French qualifier Oceane Dodin; No. 6 seed Zhang Shuai of China, who beat Japan’s Misaki Doi, 7-5, 6-4; and No. 61 Sorana Cirstea of Romania, who defeated No. 104 Venus Williams of the United States, 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.

• No. 1 doubles seeds Alexa Guarachi of Chile and Desirae Krawczyk of the United States advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 win over Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia and Nao Hibino of Japan.

Tuesday’s Internationaux de Strasbourg order of play