In a third-round battle at the US Open between the current world #6 and a former world #6, Caroline Garcia of France takes on Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. Garcia, despite an impressive rise up the rankings over the past two seasons, has made just one Grand Slam quarterfinal and has never been beyond the third round in New York. Suarez Navarro, meanwhile, is most at home on the clay but has been in good form on the hard courts so far this summer. Who will come out on top?
Garcia and Suarez Navarro have met twice so far in their careers and the Frenchwoman has won on both occasions. The first came two years ago in Dubai where Garcia upset the third-seeded Suarez Navarro from a set down, 4-6 6-4 6-3 and went on to reach the semifinals (lost to Strycova). Their most recent meeting came earlier this year in Madrid in the quarterfinals and though the roles were reversed, the outcome was not. Garcia won comfortably, 6-3 6-2.
Path to the third round
Garcia began her US Open campaign against the potentially dangerous Johanna Konta, once ranked as high as 4th in the world and twice a Grand Slam semifinalist. But Konta has endured a difficult year and offered little resistance as Garcia swept into the second round a 6-2 6-2 victor. There she faced Rio gold medallist Monica Puig, who had beaten her just last week in Connecticut. But Garcia had her revenge, battling past the Puerto Rican 6-2 1-6 6-4.
Suarez Navarro arrived in Flushing Meadows after making the final in Connecticut (lost to Sabalenka), and has had to battle to claim her place in the third round. Against Nicole Gibbs of the USA in the first round, she had to rally from a set down to advance, but did so, winning 5-7 6-3 6-4 to set up a clash with Kristina Mladenovic. Suarez Navarro made a strong start to take the first set 6-1, but could not sustain that momentum in the second. She recovered in the third to win 6-1 4-6 6-4.
How do they match up?
Garcia’s game is built around clean, powerful hitting from the back of the court and impressive athleticism. She is an excellent volleyer and a Grand Slam champion in doubles, but she comes to the net only sparingly in singles. That is in spite of her having won 13 of the 15 points she has there this week. But she has also been striking the ball well from the baseline and has hit 46 winners across her two matches though her 27 unforced errors against Puig will have been disappointing.
Suarez Navarro has been playing slightly more conservative tennis so far in. Against Mladenovic she did hit 24 winners, whilst also making 25 unforced errors, but it was her consistency and defensive ability that ultimately proved vital, as she restricted Mladenovic to 28 winners at the cost of 41 unforced. With her winning just 13 points more than Mladenovic in total, it becomes clear just how vital the 13 unforced errors the Frenchwoman made that she did not make up for with winners were.
This has been another extremely unpredictable women’s draw. Seeds have been falling out of the draw at a rate of knots and neither of the top two seeds have made it to the third round with Halep falling in the first round and Wozniacki in the second. That has made New York a veritable land of opportunity, but one with plenty of dangerous obstacles and Suarez Navarro is just that. But Garcia has looked sharp and her talent is formidable. The Frenchwoman in three.