By the time Caroline Garcia was shaking hands with Ana Ivanovic after their match, tears were already in the Frenchwoman's eyes. A few seconds later, holding a towel over her face, she was hurtling down the tunnel toward the locker room. After her 6-1, 6-3 defeat, Garcia couldn’t get off the court, and away from the home fans, fast enough.
You could understand why. Garcia had been tapped, here and other places, as one of the women to watch at the French Open. This spring, with her Fed Cup heroics against the United States, the 20-year-old seemed to be making good on the promise she had shown at 17, when she nearly beat Maria Sharapova in Paris. On her best days, Garcia has an instinctive all-around game. But whether it was the setting or the expectations, this was, to put it mildly, not one of Garcia’s best days. After three games, she was down 0-3 to Ivanovic and had already made 10 of the 34 unforced errors—against just eight winners—that she would commit on the afternoon. From start to finish, it was one long shank for Garcia.
Of course, her performance may also have had something to do with her opponent. Ivanovic, as she said afterward, came to Roland Garros feeling as comfortable on court as she has since she won the tournament six years ago. The Serb didn’t have to do a whole lot to win the first set, other than stand and watch her opponent hit the ball out. But even when Garcia settled a little in the second set, Ivanovic outclassed her. She hit just 10 winners, but she controlled the rallies and kept the service yips at bay; Ivanovic double-faulted once. If there was anything to worry about, it came at the end, when Ivanovic sprayed a few balls while she was trying to close the match out. But Ana held her nerve and kept going after her backhand, and Garcia was always there to rescue her with a misfire.
Ivanovic now faces an even younger opponent, 19-year-old Elina Svitolina, but she probably won’t get the same kind of help she got from Garcia. Ivanovic has won all three of their previous matches, but the last one, in Indian Wells, went to a third-set tiebreaker.
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