France’s Caroline Garcia thrilled her home crowd as she battled from a break down in the 3rd set to beat Belgian Greet Minnen in the first round of the Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon on Monday.
I'm very lucky to have the chance to play at home. It's very rare. I really tried to embrace it and take everything in. They really helped me. It's an honour to play in France, and even more so in my own tournament. I'm so happy that I won this match with the support of the public. Caroline Garcia
French women made it two-for-two on the first day of main draw action in Lyon, but not without a fight.
After No 4 seed Alizé Cornet cruised past German qualifier Antonia Lottner by winning the last 7 games earlier in the day, 3rd seed Garcia was pushed to the brink by Minnen in the nightcap before prevailing in a third-set tiebreak, 6-4 1-6 7-6(5).
The former World No 7, who lives in Lyon, trailed 4-2 in the final set before winning 3 straight games, never allowing the Belgian to reach match point.
She later saw 2 match points of her own slip by in the 12th game before ultimately sealing the 2 hour and 16-minute victory in a dramatic tiebreak, which never saw the two players separated by more than 2 points.
“I was very excited to play against Greet. I think she’s a great player, and I think it was a very big fight from the beginning to the end,” Garcia said after the match.
“I didn’t always play great, but I tried to fight very hard, and I’m very happy and proud with how I managed the end of the match.”
Down a set, Minnen produced some stunning play to send the match into a decider.
She continued the momentum into the 3rd, and was the first to break serve to lead 3-1 but after failing to convert 2 break points in the next game, Garcia’s comeback slowly began to gain steam, buoyed by the support of a passionate home crowd.
“I’m very lucky to have the chance to play at home,” Garcia continued. “It’s very rare.
“I really tried to embrace it and take everything in. They really helped me. It’s an honour to play in France, and even more so in my own tournament.
“I’m so happy that I won this match with the support of the public.
“I wanted to give back everything I have here to Lyon. It’s very special to play in this tournament. It was great to be supported like this.”
The World No 46 saved a break point which would have seen Minnen build a 5-2 lead, but she finally broke serve for the first time since the opening set to level in the 8th game.
A love hold put Garcia back on top, and the Frenchwoman earned herself opportunities to win the match prior to the eventual tiebreak.
Garcia was two points away from victory in the 10th game at 30-30 before Minnen saved 2 match points in the 12th to send the contest to its finale.
The first 6 points went with serve, before trading mini-breaks to again see parity at 4-4.
Garcia finally forced the Belgian into a miscue on the back of a strong forehand to bring up a 3rd match point, which she duly converted on an unreturned serve down the tee.
Up next, Garcia will face another Belgian player in left-hander Ysaline Bonaventure, who beat Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk in Monday’s opening round, 6-4 6-4.