It had gone a bit under the radar heading into the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, but world No. 35 Caroline Garcia has quietly gotten her game back. The Frenchwoman comes into this semifinal meeting with world No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka having won 11 of her last 12 matches. She now finds herself as a small underdog against a player that is ranked a lot higher than her, and Garcia's recent play suggests you shouldn’t pay too much attention to the number next to her name here.
In Cincinnati alone, Garcia has earned wins over world No. 3 Maria Sakkari, world No. 33 Elise Mertens and world No. 8 Jessica Pegula. And two tournaments ago, in Warsaw, she knocked off world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and eventually went on to capture the title. Garcia was once a Top 10 player on the WTA Tour, and a competitor people expected to challenge for trophies on the biggest stages. But the 28-year-old hit a rough patch from 2019 to 2021, and it never quite looked like she was going to get herself back to the upper echelon. Well, now it appears she’s right where she used to be, as she is 31-16 in tour-level matches since the start of 2022. Garcia's 66.0% winning percentage this year is the second-highest of her career, and she’s going to come into this meeting with Sabalenka with some sky-high confidence.