By McCarton Ackerman
Throughout the year, USOpen.org will feature a series of players who could make deep runs at the 2014 US Open. Here’s a look at 20-year-old Caroline Garcia of France.
The Baseline: Garcia first rose to prominence as a 17-year-old, when she came within two games of knocking out Maria Sharapova at the 2011 French Open. No less than 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray declared afterward that she was destined to be a future world No. 1. It’s taken Garcia a few years to begin fulfilling some of that promise, but she has made 2014 her breakout year on tour.
Starting the year ranked No. 71, Garcia reached her maiden WTA semifinal in February in Acapulco, Mexico, then turned heads just weeks later by nearly defeating Serena Williams in the Sony Open in Miami. From there, she opened her clay-court season in style earlier this month by winning both the singles and doubles titles at the WTA event in Bogota, Colombia, defeating world No. 8 Jelena Jankovic in the final.
But her performance last week in the Fed Cup World Group Play-off against the U.S. may have been her most impressive display yet. Garcia won all three points for France, defeating Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys in straight sets in singles and teaming with Virginie Razzano to win the deciding doubles rubber. She's now up to No. 51 in the world.
The Breakdown: A baseline player who isn’t afraid to come to the net if given the opportunity, Garcia’s all-court game translates well to outdoor hard courts. She competed extensively in the Emirates Airline US Open Series last summer, winning a round at the WTA event in Washington, D.C., and advanced to the second round at the US Open.
Concentration issues have bedeviled Garcia in the past, but after focusing more on the mental side of her game this year, the Frenchwoman is reaping the benefits. Now, having already won more WTA main draw matches in 2014 than all her other years as a pro combined, and with minimal points to defend this year outside the Grand Slams, Garcia is setting herself up nicely for a run this summer -- and perhaps even a run at a Top 3 finish in this year's Series.