Caroline Garcia keeping some distance after criticism, controversy

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Caroline Garcia defeated countrywoman Alize Cornet in the fourth round. (AP)

PARIS—Caroline Garcia, hurt by recent criticism at home, decided to change her approach before the French Open, and is now in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The 23-year-old Garcia won both her matches for France in the 2016 Fed Cup final, but went back and forth about playing the team competition this season. When she withdrew from the World Group playoffs with a back injury in April, there was some controversy, and teammates Kristina Mladenovic and Alize Cornet mocked the announcement on Twitter.

Garcia had just reached the semifinals in Monterrey, but then didn't play for a month and didn't win back-to-back matches until Strasbourg, the week before the French Open.

“I was not playing good,” Garcia said. “Because I couldn't play Fed Cup, because people say some stuff about me and everything after that. For this tournament, since last week, I decide to take some distance about a lot of things and just go tennis, to play it and enjoy—to improve every day. Stay with my team and try to [keep] the line and just focus on our way. 

"For sure, it's always nice to see support from people around you and people you don't even know. But sometimes people can say bad things, and when you're a little bit down it can bring you even more down, so you have to be careful.”

Now, in the past nine days, world No. 28 Garcia has stayed positive. She beat Su-Wei Hsieh, 9-7, in the third round and easily outhit fellow Frenchwoman Cornet in the fourth round.    

Garcia and Cornet exchanged cheek kisses at net, but even though there is still some tension between the pair, Garcia isn't concentrating on that anymore. She will now play No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday in Paris.

The Czech beat Garcia in their previous meeting, in Doha.

“Pliskova is now well known,” Garcia said. “I played a few times against her. We trained together. I know her game. She has her strengths—doesn’t put much variety, but she has a very strong forehand and a great serve. Clay may not be her preferred surface, but she has a lot of experience, she stays very calm, she's been in quarterfinals in Grand Slam tournaments before.

So I know I have to be extremely serious and I have to be prepared to fight.”

Holding Serve with Roger Federer will air on Thursday, June 8th at 2 p.m. ET, only on Tennis Channel.

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