Caroline Garcia

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Garcia advances to semifinals at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — Caroline Garcia advanced to the semifinals at the WTA Finals on Friday when top-ranked Simona Halep was beaten by Elina Svitolina.

Garcia defeated Caroline Wozniacki 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the early Red Group match, giving both 2-1 records. Wozniacki had already advanced, but Garcia had to wait. When Svitolina beat Halep 6-3, 6-4 later in the day, the top-ranked Romanian was eliminated and Garcia was through as the group winner.

In the semifinals, Garcia will play Venus Williams and Wozniacki will face Karolina Pliskova.

Garcia, playing at a career-high No. 8 ranking after winning back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing, is the only one of the eight-players who didn’t have a chance to end the season with the top ranking.

“It was kind of weird, actually, to be here,” Garcia said. “I qualified last minute, two weeks before. I really wanted to keep improving, play every single match and get experience.

“That’s why I think I won these (last) two matches.”

Despite not reaching the semifinals, Halep will retain the No. 1 ranking unless Pliskova wins the title, which would make her the year-end No. 1.

“This system (round-robin) I don’t like,” Halep said. “You stay like stressed all week. If you lose, of course, you have another chance. I just want it to be if you lose you go home.”

Garcia wins Wuhan Open for first title of year

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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.”

Muguruza advances to Pan Pacific Open semis

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TOKYO — Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza advanced to the semifinals of the Pan Pacific Open by beating Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-4 Friday.

A rare double-fault by the top-seeded Muguruza allowed Garcia to pull even at 3-3 in the second set, but the Spaniard broke back in the next game.

Playing in her first tournament since earning the No. 1 ranking, Muguruza will next face Caroline Wozniacki. The former top-ranked Dane advanced when Dominika Cibulkova was forced to retire with a right thigh injury while trailing 3-6, 7-6 (5), 3-1.

Also, Angelique Kerber upset second-seeded Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (5), 7-5. The seventh-seeded Kerber took advantage of several unforced errors by the Czech player and won with a powerful cross-court shot on her fifth match point.

Kerber will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the semifinals. The Russian beat Barbora Strycova 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.