Caroline Garcia produced one of the year's performances to lift the Billie Jean King Trophy at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Frenchwoman looked unstoppable at times as she made her way to a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka in an hour and 41 minutes.
The victory caps off a remarkable turnaround for Garcia who was ranked as high as No. 74 at the start of the year and nowhere near her best form. It took a title run in Bad Homburg in June to kickstart the Frenchwoman’s year and she hasn’t looked back since.
Since June, Garcia has won a title on each surface (with one at WTA 1000 level), earned a US Open semifinal appearance and claimed the WTA Finals to reaffirm herself as one of the game’s best.
“Today was an amazing final, so much intensity on every single point,” Garcia said post-match.
“To all the people I have been able to share the past (with) to this trophy. I met a lot of people along the way. Some people are here, some people that met me when I was a 12-year-old little girl.
“I took memories, and I took positives from all those experiences and I would like to thank all these experiences who have made me a better person and a better player.”
The match lived up to the billing of a WTA Final, with both players trading blows from the first point until the very last.
The opening set was a serve-a-thon, with neither player getting a glimpse of a break point.
Garcia’s serving didn’t allow Sabalenka a chance to get into the match, with the Frenchwoman constantly finding the line to finish the set with 10 aces. Sabalenka hit three aces herself but undid herself with a familiar problem in 2022; the dreaded double fault.
Sabalenka gave two costly double faults away in the tiebreak to hand Garcia the lead in a tense final.
The Belarusian then kickstarted the second set with a poor service game to hand Garcia what would turn out to be an unassailable lead. That game would feature the only break point for the entire match.
Garcia went about her business for the remainder of the set to hold on for the biggest tournament win of her career.
She will now jump back into the WTA’s top five for the first time since 2018.
On the doubles court, Elise Mertens and Veronika Kudermetova made a huge comeback to defeat reigning champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the final.
The pair fought back from a 2-7 deficit in the match tiebreaker to run out to a 6-4, 2-6, 11-7 victory.
The win was bittersweet for Mertens who fell at the final hurdle against her Czech opponents in the 2021 version of this event with then-partner, Hsieh Su-wei.