Since her arrival at Melbourne Park, Caroline Garcia has had the honors of the main interview room for her post-match press conferences and is almost surprised. Just like being programmed, as soon as it enters the competition, on the Rod Laver Arena, the center court of the Australian Open. “I didn’t expect to play on this court. But I was happy to be there and to experience my first victory there,” said the French, Tuesday, January 17, after her quick victory in the heat wave against the qualified Canadian Katherine Sebov (6-3, 6-0). Thursday, in freezing playing conditions this time, she escaped the trap posed by another Canadian, Leylah Fernandez, finalist of the US Open 2021, to qualify for the third round (7-6, 7-5 ).
The No. 4 seed in the first Grand Slam of the season has visibly acclimated better to the changeable Australian weather than to her new status and all that entails. This rank of world number 4, the highest of her career, is however not a discovery for the Lyonnaise, who had already reached the peaks of world tennis at the end of 2018 by stealthily integrating the Top 4. But she did not think she could taste again one day to this drunkenness, convinced of having definitively let her chance pass.
For five months, Garcia has been living in a way a second youth in a career long consumed by doubts. Between crisis of confidence, tennis in distress and recurring physical difficulties (on the back, on the left foot, where she suffered from cracks in the plantar aponeurosis), the right-hander sank almost inevitably into the depths of the classification, 79e worldwide in May 2022.
“The level of play to beat the best”
Before going through a second half of the season in a virtual state of grace: a title in Cincinnati (Ohio) in August, a semi-final at the US Open the following month and, to complete this renaissance, a crowning at the Masters WTA – which brings together the eight best players of the year – in November, in Fort Worth (Texas, USA), seventeen years after that of Amélie Mauresmo.
The next step is logically to aim for the Grail. “One of the goals for this year, or the next two years, is to try to go all the way, to win a Grand Slam. We’ll see if I’m able to do it, but it’s a big challenge that I want to take on.”assumes at the start of the season Garcia, who is favored by bookmakers in Melbourne, with the Polish and world number one Iga Swiatek.
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