October 9, 2017
Rafael Nadal and Caroline Garcia were triumphant at the China Open, to take the singles titles in style.
But in some ways those finals were as much about their opponents as the winners themselves.
Nick Kyrgios went into meltdown over a line call during Nadal’s emphatic 6-2, 6-1 victory in Beijing.
That finally cost him a penalty point at the start of the eighth game, as the umpire grew weary of his persistent complaining.
Nadal, in a different league for psychological strength, notched up nine games in a row and cruised to his sixth title of the season – an incredible achievement for a player who was deemed to be past his best only last year.
But the Kyrgios tantrum made you wonder whether the complicated Australian will ever mature sufficiently to do justice to his talent, and start winning big tournaments.
Meanwhile it was Garcia’s opponent, Simona Halep who had just become world number one, by virtue of her semi-final victory over Jelena Ostapenko on the Saturday.
But top spot has proved a heavy burden in recent times for those women whose name is not Serena Williams.
Perhaps predictably, therefore, Halep promptly lost her final to the unseeded French woman, whose flowing brilliance and strong nerve ensured a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) victory – despite Garcia having to save nine break points in the second set.
That determination and sparkling reward spells trouble for Britain’s Johanna Konta, who drops out of the top eight for the tour finals.
To edge ahead of Garcia once more, Konta must reach the final of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and see what her rival does in comparison.
Garcia hasn’t entered the Moscow tournament but may try for a wild card in order to cover her back and guarantee her place in Singapore with another strong run.
If that happens, Konta will have to go on stand-by, in case of an injury to a rival, which would then give her the opportunity to step in, from a likely position as reserve, for those year-end WTA finals.
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