Profile | Caroline Garcia
Five years on from her eye-catching performance at Roland Garros, this Lyonnaise finally looks ready to roar
By Stephen Higgins | 7 January 2016
Caroline Garcia's tale has so often revolved around a day in Paris in May 2011.
Aged just 17 and ranked 188 in the world, the Frenchwoman was a set and two games away from sending Maria Sharapova out of Roland Garros. The youngster couldn't quite follow the lead of Garbiñe Muguruza and Richard Gasquet and upset a tennis giant, but the impact of her enormous game was certainly felt by the Russian and the game at large.
Andy Murray got very excited watching that performance and famously tweeted an outlandish prediction:
The girl sharapova is playing is going to be number one in the world one day caroline garcia, what a player u heard it here first— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) May 26, 2011
Almost five years on from that match, and that prediction, there is now clear evidence that Caroline Garcia can take her place at the game's summit.
Birth Of A Lyonnaise
Garcia was born October 16, 1993 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a western suburb of Paris. She was raised and still resides in Lyon, about 470 km south-east of the capital with her parents Mary Lene and Louis.
Through the influence of her parents, Caroline first came into contact with tennis aged seven. Louis has coached his daughter from her very first split steps right up to the present day. He must be a proud onlooker as his 22-year-old daughter circumnavigates the WTA circuit.
As is so often the case, an excellent professional player was born out of an outstanding junior - and Garcia was certainly that.
She started playing ITF Junior events in 2007 and reached the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2010. 2011 was an outrageously successful campaign for the 17-year-old as she reached at least the semi-finals of every grand slam, and the final of Flushing Meadows where she lost to Grace Min of the United States.
That was the Lyonnaise's last event on the junior circuit and she finished the year with a combined ranking of no.5.
A Cub No More
Garcia started to enter senior ITF events as far back as 2007, but it wasn't until two years later that she made a real dent on the tour.
Doubles has been the primary source of Garcia's rise thus far and her first ITF title came in that format. In 2009, she partnered with compatriot Elixane Lechemia to win the $10,000 Espinho event in Portugal.
She reached another doubles final the following year (Limoges, France) and her first singles showpiece at Aschaffenburg, Germany.
At 5' 10" and boasting two major weapons in her serve and forehand, the Frenchwoman continued her steady progression up the singles and doubles listings.
Garcia recorded her first grand slam main draw wins at Melbourne and Roland Garros in 2011. She also had a series of strong results on the ITF doubles circuit including another title at Saint-Gaudens.
2012 saw the heavy hitter defeat her first top 100 players and capture a maiden WTA doubles title at Suzhou with Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky.
There was yet more progress in 2013, as Garcia exited her teenage years with a couple more ITF titles, some impressive wins (Francesca Schiavone and Jie Zheng) and her first taste of Fed Cup action against Kazakhstan.
Doubling Up On Success
It was to be 2014 when Garcia finally combined her weapons and made a heavy assault on the WTA Tour. In the space of 12 months, she jumped from 75 to 38 in singles and 115 to 26 in doubles.
Deep tournament runs came by the truckload. There were quarter-final appearances at Madrid, Nürnberg and Wuhan, a semi-final at Acapulco, and her breakthrough first WTA singles title at Bogotá in April.
The altitude of Colombia and former world no.1 Jelena Jankovic could not halt Garcia as she took the Claro Open Colsanitas final 6-3 6-4. The week was made extra special by victory in the doubles partnering Lara Arruabarrena.
Later that month, Garcia played a pivotal role as France defeated the USA in the Fed Cup play-offs.
Garcia might have added another singles title to her collection in 2015 but she lost out to Timea Bacsinszky in back-to-back finals in Acapulco and Monterrey.
Still, it was another year of strong progress for the emerging talent. She defeated a slew of top players including Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and Karolina Pliskova, and fostered an outstanding doubles partnership with Karolina Srebotnik.
The pair's victory at Eastbourne and final appearances at Brisbane, Stuttgart and Toronto helped them qualify for the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore where they lost in the group stage.
Well of course I'm going to start with the serve. Garcia was 9th on the WTA Tour in 2015 for aces hit with 255 in 56 matches. During the US Open, her fastest serve topped 117mph so she doesn't lack for power.
Her first serve is an excellent shot, as is her second delivery. Garcia is one of the relatively few women, like Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur, that has the height to hit an effective kick serve.
Standing 5' 10", Garcia may just have the ideal 'catchheight' so to speak. She's tall enough to get consistent power on her serve, but not so tall as to hinder her movement. The Frenchwoman moves well on the court, a result of her sporting childhood no doubt.
Garcia's backhand is a fine shot but I particularly love her forehand. Able to dominate points with the forehand wing, when she gets a short central ball Garcia moves onto it like a renowned Roger.
Mental lapses can still be an issue for the 22-year-old as she has been known to get tight whilst in the lead. That said, I can't imagine Garcia's career ending without a period in the world's top five and a grand slam final appearance or two.