Caroline Garcia of France is keeping her fantastic momentum going and should be considered a contender by the time the 2023 National Bank Open rolls around this summer.
She’s just wrapped up her second final of the season. At the WTA 250 in Monterrey, Mexico, Garcia lost to No. 31 Donna Vekic of Croatia in three sets (6-4, 3-6, 7-5) to remain World No. 5, just 16 points behind No. 4 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.
And the good news is that staying there until the summer solstice will be a piece of cake.
Between now and June 20, she hasn’t got a whole lot of points to defend. At the same time last year, she’d put together a so-so 4–5 record in five tournaments including Indian Wells and Miami, where she won one match of the entire Sunshine Double.
But the rest of her season went gangbusters.
She skyrocketed from No. 74 to No. 4 in less than five months and bumped up her wins–losses to 36–9. She lifted the winner’s trophies in Bad Homburg, Warsaw and Cincinnati, got to the US Open semis and took the title home from the WTA Finals Fort Worth.
Those fast and furious feats in the latter half of 2023 earned her the third spot in my ranking of the best of the WTA in my year-end review.
At 29, Caroline is one of three veterans who charmingly counterbalance the players who are excelling in their early twenties. Never give up, even when you think your best tennis is behind you.
Jessica Pegula and Ons Jabeur, who are 29 and 28 years old, respectively, also found their ways to the Top 5 a little later.
At the ATX Open in Austin, Texas, Marta Kostyuk earned her very first WTA title when she overpowered Varvara Gracheva (6-3, 7-5) in the final showdown. The win tipped the Ukrainian player’s ranking into the Top 40—a career high.
You should have seen her reaction after winning championship point. It was an emotional 22 seconds.
It’s a title she’d been waiting for. A really long time.
Like many others before her, she’d been identified early on as one of the most promising players in women’s tennis. And like many others before her, she took more time than expected to snag her first crown.
You’ll say she’s only 20.
I hear you.
But back in January 2017, a 14-year-old Marta Kostyuk won the Australian Open junior title. Seven and a half months later, she breezed through the junior tournament in Repentigny—a prelude to the final Slam of the season—to claim the title.
And despite all that potential, over the next five years, she won only two W60 tournaments, one in February 2018 and the other in February 2020.
Her outburst of joy and emotion in Texas is easily understandable. She’d finally won, six years after the euphoria of her junior Slam triumph.
What’s next? Will the new hardware mark a new beginning for her?
In theory, we should see the results for ourselves at the NBO. It’ll be only the second time she competes in Québec since Repentigny. In 2022, she played in the WTA 250 in Granby, where she defeated two Canadians, Marina Stakusic and Rebecca Marino, before handing Daria Saville a walkover in the semis.
Marta Kostyuk, the new No. 40, is the second-best Ukrainian player behind No. 29 Anhelina Kalinina.
With Elina Svitolina (No.v875) out of the game and Lesia Tsurenko (No.95) slowly fading, she could become the new Ukrainian No. 1.
Keep an eye out for her in Montréal this summer.
MARCH 8 AND THE WTA
As in previous years, the WTA and its members are expected to raise awareness through institutional messages.
Here are just a few examples of what’s been shared in the past:
A lot of the messages are relayed from the Coachella Valley, which hosts the BNP Paribas Open every year.
It was from Indian Wells that Petra Kvitova sent out this message with a dual meaning, since she also celebrates her birthday on March 8.
Finally, Canada won’t be left out and will use its social networks for widespread coverage. All the information on the federal government’s involvement is here.
NBO SOUVENIR PHOTO
Although this photo is the type of thing you usually see in August, rest assured that Claude Savard, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships at Tennis Canada, has been on the phone for several months.
In his 33rd year at TC, Savard makes sure all the corporate partners, which are vital to the National Bank Open, remain on board for this important summer sports event in Montréal.
And just by looking at the sign on his right, you can tell he’s a busy guy.