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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, August 19, 2022


Qualifier Caroline Garcia soared past American No. 1 Jessica Pegula 6-1, 7-5 landing her first Cincinnati semifinal.

Photo credit: Dylan Buell/Getty

Center court resembled a runway—Caroline Garcia is flying high again.

Qualifier Garcia soared past American No. 1 Jessica Pegula 6-1, 7-5 landing her first Cincinnati semifinal.

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It is Garcia's 11th win in her last 12 matches. Since the start of June, Garcia has won 25 matches—most on the WTA Tour in that span.

The 28-year-old Frenchman was ranked as low as No. 79 earlier this summer. Tonight's win propels Garcia back into the Top 30 at No. 28 in the live rankings.

Former world No. 4 Garcia will face Aryna Sabalenka for a spot in Sunday's final.

The sixth-seeded Sabalenka broke serve six times defeating Zhang Shuai 6-4, 7-6(1). Sabalenka smacked seven aces against 12 double faults in a one hour, 49-minute win. It came one night after the big-hitting Belarusian outlasted American Shelby Rogers in two hours, 35 minutes.

Former world No. 2 Sabalenka has beaten Garcia in two of their three meetings, including a three-set win at the 2018 Cincinnati. All three encounters were in 2018 with Garcia winning their last match 6-4, 6-4 in Zhuhai.

The serve and return are the two most important shots in the sport and Garcia beat Pegula in both areas tonight. Garcia won 32 of 40 first-serve points and pumped four aces.

Two-time Roland Garros doubles champion Garcia showed her flair for forward attack, digging out a fine low backhand volley in the fifth game. A timely ace helped Garcia hold and left a frustrated Pegula, who squandered a break point in the game, bouncing her Yonex racquet off the blue court in disgust.

Playing with heavy taping wrapping her left thigh, Pegula looked a little leg weary and wasn't hitting her first serve with her typical vigor. A bigger issue was Garcia's predatory posture well inside the baseline and punishing return game. Pegula completed her serve motion only to see a return blur right back at her as Garcia broke again for 5-1.

Whipping the wide kick serve to set up her first strike, Garcia served out the 28-minute opening set at love.

Trying to reset, Pegula produced one of her best service games. The seventh seed thumped her second ace down the middle wrapping a strong hold for a 3-2 second-set lead.

The Garcia return game was in fine form for much of this match. Leaning into her two-handed backhand, Garcia was punishing crosscourt strikes rattling out a netted error for the crucial break and a 6-5 lead.

The American No. 1 put a backhand into the net giving Garcia match point. The former world No. 4 finished with a flourish and now continues her quest for a 10th career title, including her third of the season. 


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