Garcia crowned WTA Finals queen in Texas

Caroline Garcia plopped on a cowboy hat to go with the trophy she was holding after telling fans she had enjoyed her first trip to Texas.

There was plenty for the Frenchwoman to like in Cowtown.

Garcia took a tight first set and went on to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 victory over Aryna Sabalenka to win the championship match of the WTA Finals on Monday night.

The sixth-ranked Garcia became the second player from France to win the season-ending event after Amelie Mauresmo in 2005, also the last time the WTA Finals were held in the US.

Tied in the deciding game of a match with just one break point, Garcia's service winner gave her a second chance to close it out. When Sabalenka sent a forehand long, Garcia dropped to the court on her back and put clenched fists over her eyes.

"It's definitely a lot of joy and happiness," Garcia said told reporters about an hour later, cowboy hat still on and with the trophy on a table just to her left.

"It's been a crazy, crazy final, a lot of intensity on every single point from the beginning."

The event was moved to Texas from China over concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai, a grand slam doubles champion who accused a former government official there of sexual assault. Coronavirus restrictions also played a part in the decision.

Garcia won her last six sets after dropping the first in a winner-take-all match against Daria Kasatkina in group play. The 29-year-old is the oldest WTA Finals winner since Serena Williams at 33 in 2014.

The only player to win titles on all three surfaces this season, Garcia was just as comfortable as Sabalenka on the temporary indoor hard court at Dickies Arena.

As a result, Garcia handed the No.7 player from Belarus just her third loss in 12 career hard-court finals. The 24-year-old Sabalenka was trying to become the first from her country to win the WTA Finals.

Sabalenka reached the title match by beating top-ranked Pole Iga Swiatek.

Going into the WTA Finals, Garcia was the only entrant in the eight-player field to beat Swiatek -- but was ranked 45th when she did it at the Poland Open in July. Garcia went on to her best grand slam finish, reaching the semis at the US Open.

"I'm impressed with what she's done this season," Sabalenka said.

"I think there's many more finals for her. Hopefully we'll play against each other in the finals, and hopefully I will win the next one."

Garcia's fourth victory of the season is second only to Swiatek's eight.

Earlier in the day, Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens beat defending champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-2 4-6 11-9 to win the doubles title.