PARIS (Reuters) - While Andy Murray’s 2011 prediction that Caroline Garcia “is going to be number one in the world one day” has yet to be realized, the Frenchwoman feels she is at long last heading in the right direction.
Garcia seemed to be on a fast-track to success when just months after turning professional, the then 17-year-old French Open debutante appeared to be on the cusp of pulling off a huge upset as she led Maria Sharapova 6-3 4-1 in the second round in 2011.
That prompted Murray to tweet: “The girl Sharapova is playing is going to be number one in the world one day ... what a player.”
However, nerves soon kicked in and Garcia ended up losing the next 11 games to hand victory to the Russian.
Over the next five years Garcia won only two singles matches at Roland Garros -- until she finally showed what she was capable of over the past 10 days to reach her first grand slam quarter-final.
On Wednesday, she was beaten 7-6(3) 6-4 by world number three Karolina Pliskova but she held her nerve throughout.
“That is certainly one of my biggest satisfactions, being able to come on the court, be myself without worrying what people were saying, what people were thinking,” Garcia told a news conference.
”I think I had somewhat lost myself over the past weeks. I wasn’t really fighting. Not that I didn’t know how to play anymore, but something wasn’t just right.
“What I‘m really proud of is that finally I was able to play. I was able to enjoy being on the court, take pleasure.”
Garcia will reach a career-high 21 in the rankings next week, and she intends to continue building on the confidence she gained at Roland Garros.
“I‘m very satisfied about the 10 days here, but I don’t want to leave it here,” she said.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar