Garcia downs Sharapova
Seven years after coming agonisingly close to defeating Maria Sharapova as a precocious teenager, Caroline Garcia has finally gone one better
The Frenchwoman almost caused a major upset at Roland Garros in 2011 when she stormed into a sizeable lead over the Russian, but she was eventually pegged back and then overtaken.
Since then, Garcia has fell to Sharapova on a further three occasions, however she snapped her unwanted losing streak in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart this afternoon.
The No.6 seed eliminated the three-time champion 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 to set up a last sixteen meeting with Marta Kostyuk, who downed wildcard entry, Antonia Lottner, 6-4 6-1.
The 15-year-old from Ukraine is the youngest player to win a main draw match in Stuttgart.
Sharapova had hoped returning to a familiar venue - where she has enjoyed considerable success - would help kick-start her season, but her time in Germany has come to an abrupt end.
The 31-year-old has now lost four matches in a row and failed to register a victory since the Australian Open. It’s a difficult time for the five-time major champion, and she will slip outside the Top 50 on Monday.
Sharapova may be short of match-action, but she did make a bright start against her first round opponent. She eased into a 3-0 lead and claimed the first set without encountering a single break-point on serve.
Garcia, who hit just one winner in the opener, looked jittery in the early stages. She was more settled in the second set, though, and managed to level the match after some brave baseline hitting in a much-win tiebreak.
The crowd was firmly in favour of the Frenchwoman, and she used their support to her advantage. At 4-4 in the decider, the 24-year-old nabbed a vital breakthrough with a simple forehand winner after some stinging groundstrokes.
Garcia was on the brink of a significant victory - and she held her nerve to inflict yet more misery on Sharapova.