Caroline Garcia, from Murray’s prophecy to the US Open semi-finals in 11 years

The British tennis player, whom he saw on the court at the age of 17, was crowned No. 1 in the future. And before losing to Jaber in the US Open semi-finals, he was really playing like anyone in the ring.

Antonio Cefalu

& quot; Anto Cephalus ”

In 2011, there were less than a third of Twitter users today and politicians, the few who actually registered, still do not use it in the campaign. It was basically a big friends reunion. Among the few present, Andy Murray, who was enjoying a match at Roland Garros grabbed his BlackBerry and tweeted: “That little girl playing against Sharapova is going to be number one in the world. What a player.”

prophecy

Very tall, slender, with a thick black band of hair covering her forehead, fast feet and uncertain movements as a teenager in the adult world. The seventeen-year-old Caroline Garcia who first appeared to the general public was Caroline Garcia, and as Murray pressed the little black buttons on her phone, she had just grabbed a bunch of multiple Grand Slams, which she forcefully reassembled. of experience. After 11 years, the prophecy of the British tennis player has not yet been fulfilled. At 28 and after seasons of ups and downs, Garcia will return to the top ten on Monday and has yet to reach the top. However, without depending on the standings, in recent months he has played better than almost anyone in the ring. All but one, that Ons Jabeur interrupted his streak of 13 consecutive victories by defeating her in his first Grand Slam semi-final, at the US Open.

child prodigy

In 2011, Garcia ranked 161 in the WTA rankings, but enjoyed great fame as a junior, being fifth on the youth circuit. This set with Sharapova, which was supposed to be the beginning of a glorious career, turned into a dangerous precedent. Or “challenge,” as I’ve called it lately. “After that match I felt a lot of pressure coming in in a totally unexpected way. It was tough, people expected a lot from me, but I wasn’t ready for anything like that.” If only Murray had kept his BlackBerry in his pocket.

Flight

Over the years, Garcia has been an excellent player, with short but intense tops, which here and there drenched weeks of shimmering form in the dark years. It also reached number 4 in the standings in 2018, capitalizing on the two sets of WTA 1000s it won on Chinese hard courts in December of the previous year. However, in 2022, it seems to have finally hit the right buttons. It all started again with Roland Garros, winning the doubles tournament with Kiki Mladenovic – repeating the success of 2016. There the spark ignited. The fire broke out in June, in the lawns of Bad Homburg, where he won his first singles title in a season now traveling at altitude of three. There is a change you forget. “I won the first game and played poorly, really badly, but I understood what I had to do on the pitch to play a part.” And so the #FlyWithCaro hashtag is back in the right direction: its signature in every post and its way of celebrating every victory — performing in a high jump where it seems to fly.

clear path

The development was amazing. Until her defeat to Jaber, Garcia went from being a momentary player to becoming a steamboat. Above all thanks to the new technical guide, that Bertrand Beret who replaced his father Louis Paul, coach for life. Aside from the band on the front that never took it off, Perret made her a new tennis player without disturbing her game, but simplifying it. The French, always aggressive but often uncertain, succeeded in resolving a persistent dilemma between prudence and risk. “Now my path is much clearer than ever.”

This means that Garcia has learned to stifle opponents with the risky game of tennis, which traverses the line between aggression and unconsciousness. The answers with their feet inside the field (that “if he takes another step he takes it quickly”) are now a trademark. The weight of his forehand has become a very difficult weapon to defuse, and he knows how to supplement base balls with a clever and well-rounded descent net, inherited from a good doubles career. Then the serve, which when it comes to zero tolerance – is the Aces’ seasonal leader, with a score of 286. “I know that’s the direction I have to take because tennis is what works for me. It doesn’t matter who’s in front of me nor the pressure.” And in fact, from the new technical manual, they are not seen anymore. So much so that she only goes to the press conference on one condition: There are no questions about the next opponent, and she never allows them to make her doubt her “direction”.

Jaber’s nightmare

For two months she seemed unbeatable. In fact, it was. Just on the way to the Cincinnati title, he killed opponents of the caliber of Sakkari, Pegula, Sabalenka, and Pliskova; Earlier, in Warsaw, No. 1 had defeated Swiatek; In New York, Gauff’s home idol was wiped out in the neighborhoods. In a fiery summer, it was only the Italian Ciocciaretto in Bronzetti, in Palermo, that put her in trouble. Then Jaber, who made a comeback in the US Open semi-finals to destroy her plans to win a Grand Slam, is back, just as it has already happened several times in their little rivalry. At a very young age, the Tunisian tennis player created “many problems” – in Garcia’s words – with her variations and segments. As an adult, the scenario was the same, stunning the French woman with a combination of big stage and an opponent who knows exactly how to defuse. She lost 6-1 6-3, looking clumsy and without a way out like it hasn’t happened lately. “But this is the way, my way is clear,” he repeated after the defeat. Who knows that sooner or later it won’t lead her to fulfill Andy Murray’s prophecy.