Australian Open

Garcia through after teen battle

2018-01-18 08:29
Caroline Garcia (AP)

Melbourne - World number eight Caroline Garcia showed no ill effects of a recent back injury to endure a marathon in the heat on Thursday and reach the third round of the Australian Open.

But the battling Frenchwoman, who had a breakout year in 2017, was taken all the way by Czech teen Marketa Vondrousova in grinding out a 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 8-6 victory. 

"I tried to keep calm and keep fighting to the end," said Garcia after two hours and 29 minutes of play on a red-hot Hisense Arena. 

Her 18-year-old opponent, the world number 62, was looking for a first win over a top-10 opponent and got off to the ideal start by taking the first set on a tiebreak as temperatures rose into the mid-30s Celsius. 

"It's definitely hot," said Garcia. "My feet are burning. But we know it's like this in Australia -- the next day it can be freezing." 

Garcia, who won two titles in 2017 and qualified for the WTA Finals, bounced back to take the second in 34 minutes. 

However, the teenager was striking the ball well and forced the Frenchwoman to save three break points in an attritional third set that could have gone either way. 

At 6-6, 30-40, Vondrousova found a rasping forehand winner to save a break point. But two points later she cracked, going long to hand Garcia the edge. 

Garcia served out for the match with no further alarm to set up a third-round meeting with either last year's Croat semi-finalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Alaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

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