WUHAN, China — Unseeded Caroline Garcia of France won her first title of the year on Saturday, beating Ashleigh Barty 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the Wuhan Open final.
“A title is the best, it’s the best thing you can have in tennis. A big one or a small one, it doesn’t matter,” said Garcia, who clinched her fourth career title.
The 20th-ranked Garcia, playing her first final of 2017, struck first by breaking Barty’s serve in the seventh game and holding the next to take a 5-3 lead. Barty easily held her serve and broke back for 5-5. Neither player could then hold their serve and Barty won the tiebreaker.
The second set saw both players struggling for consistency in their serves and trading breaks. Barty’s sliced backhand caused her Australian opponent some problems and she served twice for the set but was unable to close. It was Garcia’s turn to win the tiebreaker.
Garcia went 3-1 up in the decider and gained another break before taking the title with a stunning serve.
“I feel this where I belong,” said 37th-ranked Barty, who beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinals. “I’ve had a fantastic year so far.”
LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.
At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.
The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.
Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.
“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.
Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.
Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.
Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.