WTA Finals: Caro The Conqueror

Garcia becomes the second Frenchwoman to win the event.

Caroline Garcia trophée WA Finals 2022Mike Frey / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

The curtain has closed on the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, with Caroline Garcia powering her way to the biggest title of her career.

Flaunting her impressive attacking game style, Garcia overcame Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final on Monday at Dickies Arena.

It was Garcia's eighth top-10 victory of the season and it made her just the second Frenchwoman to win the WTA Finals and first since Amelie Mauresmo in 2005.

After dropping to as low as 74 in the world mid-season, Garcia will return to her career-high ranking of No.4 on Tuesday, thanks to a sensational second half of her 2022 campaign.

She is the first player to win the title at the WTA Finals after turning 29 since Serena Williams in 2014 and has now picked up four trophies this season on clay, grass, outdoor hard-court and indoor hard-court.

Garcia was in ruthless form against Sabalenka in the final on Monday, striking 11 aces – she leads the tour in aces this season – and facing zero break points on her serve en route to her 1hr 41min victory.

"A crazy, crazy final. A lot of intensity on every single point from the very beginning. I'm just really proud of the work we did throughout the whole year," said Garcia.

"In this great match, I really went for it and I'm really, really happy to have won my biggest title."

Garcia has credited a change in attitude for her success this season, explaining how she has worked hard to avoid succumbing to negative emotions during matches.

That was evident during her battles in Fort Worth this week, where she stayed positive throughout.

Garcia is 4-0 in finals this season and has won 11 of the 14 tour-level finals she has reached - a testament to her ability to step up in big matches.

"Obviously all year long gave me a lot of confidence for this tournament, for this week, for today," said the 29-year-old.

"I think the experience of the semi-final of the US Open helped me a lot. Obviously Ons [Jabeur] played a really good match, she was really solid, she made it uncomfortable for me to play my game, but I was really sad and disappointed about my performance. I really thought I could do better.

"After so many great matches, I was like, Yeah, that was bad.

"I really tried to be here in the WTA Finals and enjoy every moment, to go for it, to try the best I can; my game style maybe it was going to pay off, maybe not, but at least I would have no regrets. I really felt better and more confident every day and the last two matches I was really solid."

Caroline Garcia trophée WTA Finals 2022©Mike Frey / FFT

Garcia's season is not over yet as she heads to Le Portel, Boulogne sur Mer where she will join Alize Cornet, Diane Parry, and Chloe Paquet on the France squad facing the Netherlands in a Billie Jean King Cup play-off tie on Friday and Saturday.

"I will arrive there on Wednesday. We have a good team with Alize, Diane and Chloe," said Garcia.

"We will have to think about every part of it to be smart about who will be in the best condition and best shape to playing the first day and the second day. I will try my best to recover as fast as I can but it's a long journey, a lot of time difference. So magic may not happen but I'll try my best."

Things looking up for Sabalenka

Sabalenka started the week by saying it was a "miracle" she even made it to the WTA Finals, given the serving woes she has battled with most of the season and the emotional roller coaster that came along with that.

But Sabalenka didn't just earn a participation certificate for qualifying for the WTA Finals, she made it through the group stage, defeated world No.1 Iga Swiatek in the semis and lost a tightly-contested championship match to Garcia.

Sabalenka showed this week she can play disciplined tennis while also adopting an offensive game plan. She will end the year as the world No.5 and says she feels she's on the right path to achieve good things in 2023.

"I think I'm on the right way," Sabalenka said after the final.

"First of all, I learned how to lose this season. I used to be super aggressive after tough losses and now I can accept the loss. For me, that's really important. It's not only about tennis, it's also about being a good person and I feel I'm becoming a better person and that's the most important thing."

In the semis against Swiatek, Sabalenka hit 12 aces against nine double faults, and saved 6/10 break points across three sets.

Against Garcia in the final, she struck four aces and just three double faults, and was broken just one time. Sabalenka won 69 percent of her first-serve points and 70 percent of her second-serve points.

"Compared to the first tournament of the year, I think I'm serving unbelievable. At least I fixed my serve this season and even with not a great start of the season, I made it to the Finals and I'm finishing the year in the top five.

"It's a lot of things to be proud of, especially with my serve. At least going into the next season I don't have this stupid thing in my mind about my serve. I know I can serve, I know I can double fault, I can ace, and it's not a big problem. I have a lot of weapons to play with. That's the great thing about this season."