She was ranked world No.79 in May yet vaulted back inside the top 10, after attaining a level that was at times unbeatable during a resurgent season.
It came almost five years after she cracked the top five, and saw her return to the WTA Finals for the first time since 2017 – one of the longest gaps between first and second appearances in the tournament’s history.
5 - Caroline Garcia will take part to the WTA Finals five years after her first appearance in 2017: only Amy Frazier (8 years), Barbara Paulus and Judith Wiesner (6 each) had a longer wait between the first two WTA Finals appearances. Back.@WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/j5fyPMBLaW— OptaAce (@OptaAce) October 19, 2022
Now 29 years of age and playing with renewed clarity and belief, Garcia insists she has come a long way since her previous career peak.
“I think my game is a little bit different. I don't feel the same person that I was five years ago,” said the Frenchwoman, who hit a high of world No.4 in April 2018.
“Obviously I learned a lot. I got some tough years in there. I got some experience.
“We have been working hard to come back to the top level. I'm really glad to be at this level again.”
Beginning with a transformative week on grass in Germany ahead of Wimbledon, we chart Garcia’s return to the upper echelons of the game.
25 June 2022: Wins first WTA title in three years at Bad Homburg
In a succession of tough matches, Garcia beat Sabine Lisicki, Alize Cornet and Bianca Andreescu to win her first title since Nottingham in June 2019. She later revealed she felt something click after losing the first set of her opening-round match to Aliaksandra Sasnovich. “I was not playing good at all, trust me. At one moment you just say to yourself … (If) you miss, you miss, but you have to do something. You have to change, you have to find a way to improve,” she said. “I was practising to be aggressive, to move forward, but I had some issue to do it in matches, and that's where it changed. I went for it. I didn't know if it was going to work, but we believe with the team that it was a good way to do so and improve from that point. From this week, a lot of things went after.”
(Rankings rise after Bad Homburg: +20 to world No.55)
2 July 2022: Advances to second week at Wimbledon
Garcia stretched her winning streak to eight matches by beating Zhang Shuai in the third round at the All England Club. A round earlier, she outplayed reigning US Open champion and local favourite Emma Raducanu in a Centre Court showcase. Garcia’s run to the last 16 marked her best Grand Slam result in almost two years, and best showing at Wimbledon since 2017.
(Rankings rise after Wimbledon: +7 to world No.48)
30 July 2022: Stuns world No.1 Swiatek, goes on to win Warsaw
Iga Swiatek had dominated in 2022, winning 39 of her past 40 matches as she entered her Warsaw quarterfinal against Garcia. Playing on her favoured clay and buoyed by thousands of Polish fans, she was expected to keep rolling. But Garcia was monstrous on return, relentlessly attacking Swiatek’s second serve to complete a three-set win. It was the only set Garcia dropped all week as she collected her second WTA title of the season. Her triumph over Ana Bogdan in the final was her 18th win from her past 21 matches.
(Rankings rise after Warsaw: +13 to world No.32)
21 August 2022: Wins WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati
Garcia began her Midwestern campaign in the qualifying rounds, navigated her way into the main draw, and kept winning. She beat top-10 stars Maria Sakkari, Jessica Pegula and Aryna Sabalenka en route to the final, where two-time champion Petra Kvitova awaited. Garcia had not beaten Kvitova since her purple patch of late 2017, but this time she surrendered just six games against the powerful Czech. It represented her biggest title since she won the China Open five years earlier.
(Rankings rise after Cincinnati: +17 to world No.18)
7 September 2022: Reaches first Grand Slam semifinal at US Open
Garcia was in the zone in New York, beating five opponents – including Andreescu and Coco Gauff – in straight sets to reach her first major semifinal. Her win over Gauff under lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium meant she had won 13 consecutive sets, as well as a career-best 13 matches in a row. Although she ultimately lost to Ons Jabeur, she returned to the top 10 for the first time since 2018.
(Rankings rise after US Open: +7 to world No.10)
24 October 2022: Closing in on career-high ranking
After reaching the last 16 of the WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara – where she lost a tight contest against Sloane Stephens – Garcia returned to world No.6, her highest ranking since September 2018. A strong showing at next week’s WTA Finals could help her to push even higher.
(Rankings rise after Guadalajara: +4 to world No.6)