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Garcia vs Barty tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Garcia begins WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai campaign against Barty

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 31 Oct 2018
  • Caroline Garcia faces Ashleigh Barty in the round-robin stages of the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai
  • Garcia vs Barty is live from Zhuhai on Thursday at 3pm local/7am GMT
Caroline Garcia (Photo by Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images)

Ashleigh Barty needs to beat Caroline Garcia in straight sets if she is to keep her hopes of reaching the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai semifinals alive. 

In a rematch of last year’s Wuhan final, Caroline Garcia begins her WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai campaign as she takes on Ashleigh Barty on Thursday.

The Orchid Group is already being topped by top seed Aryna Sabalenka, who scored a straight-sets victory over Barty in the first match, meaning that Barty really cannot afford to lose so much as a set to Garcia if she has any hope of progressing to the semifinals.

Caroline Garcia celebrates winning the Tianjin Open (Photo by STR / AFP) 
Garcia is playing Zhuhai for the second time, having made her debut at the second-tier season-ending championships in 2016 when she went 1-1 in the round-robin before graduating in 2017 to the elite top-tier WTA Finals Singapore thanks to her career-best year which included unprecedented back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing.

Twelve months later, Garcia finds herself out of the top 10 after an underwhelming season, its only real highlights being semifinal finishes in Stuttgart and Madrid, was capped by failing to defend her Wuhan and Beijing titles, losing her opening match at the former to Katerina Siniakova and in the round of 16 at the latter to Sabalenka. Down to world no. 16, Garcia immediately recorded an encouraging week at the Tianjin Open where she won her first title of 2018, beating Karolina Pliskova in the final of the International-level event (her first top-10 win on hard courts since the previous year’s WTA Finals Singapore). 

The Tianjin win cushioned the rankings fall made inevitable by Garcia’s failure to qualify for Singapore in 2018 and hence to defend her points from last year’s semifinal run, but she still comes into Zhuhai down to world no. 18 and looking to stabilize her descent as well as generally aiming to end the season on a positive note.

Ash Barty made a much more dramatic leap up the rankings than Garcia in 2017 – in her case, from world no. 271 to world no. 20 – but the Australian has done a much better job of consolidating those gains and proving that she belongs in the echelon in which she earned her place. The 22-year-old started 2018 at world no. 17; she comes into Zhuhai at world no. 19, and while she didn’t reach any finals as prestigious as the Premier-5 Wuhan final she made in 2017, she picked up a second WTA Tour International title (this one on grass in Nottingham), finished runner-up to Angelique Kerber in Sydney and made the semifinals of Premier-5 events in Montreal and Wuhan, not to mention winning back-to-back matches at three of the year’s four majors.

Barty, who played doubles last week at the WTA Finals Singapore with Coco Vandeweghe before moving on to Zhuhai, is defending semifinal points at the WTA Elite Trophy, where she secured round-robin victories over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and the flailing Kerber before losing to Vandeweghe in the elimination stages. 

Ashleigh Barty (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
And although Barty battled gamely, she found herself overwhelmed by the sheer power of the in-form Sabalenka on Tuesday, with the Belarusian sinking her teeth into the match immediately and refusing to let go. Barty relinquished an early break for 0-2 in the first set and was never able to get back on level terms, but had an opportunity to build a 4-1 lead in the second before Sabalenka broke back, winning the last four games of the match to close out a 96-minute victory.

‘I think today in particular her serve was the difference and getting that first strike, controlling the points of her first serves and behind her first serves,’ Barty said. The Australian hit more aces (six to five) and far fewer double faults (just one to Sabalenka’s eight) and landed a slightly higher percentage of first serves, but could not produce the goods under pressure the way that Sabalenka could, the Belarusian saving three of four break points,  Barty only two of five.

‘Disappointed not to come away with a win, but I have another opportunity in the next few days to finish my season on a real high.’

Garcia and Barty have met just once before, a tight and memorable encounter in the final of the Wuhan Open just over a year ago when Garcia won 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2. The difference here is that while I’m quite confident Barty can produce a level of tennis in Zhuhai similar to that which she played in Wuhan, Garcia is not playing as well as she was then. Garcia is on a five-match winning streak after triumphing in Tianjin, but if Barty can serve well and play aggressive, proactive tennis, she should have plenty of opportunities to take the battle to Garcia. Whether she takes those opportunities is another matter.

Garcia vs Barty WTA Elite Trophy round-robin tennis is live from Zhuhai on Thursday at 3pm local/7am GMT

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

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Garcia vs Barty tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Garcia begins WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai campaign against Barty

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