Poland's Magda Linette celebrates match point against France's Caroline Garcia
Melbourne (AFP) - Magda Linette “couldn’t believe it” as she reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 30 with a shock defeat of Caroline Garcia at the Australian Open on Monday.
The 45th-ranked Pole outfought the French fourth seed 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 as Garcia became the latest title contender to fall in Melbourne.
Linette, the last Pole standing after Sunday’s surprise exits of top women’s seed Iga Swiatek and 10th men’s seed Hubert Hurkacz, gave a sizeable contingent of red-and-white-clad fans on Rod Laver Arena reasons to be cheerful 24 hours later.
Linette had never before gone past the third round at the Australian Open in six previous attempts and was almost speechless after a 1hr 57min battle.
“I don’t really believe it,” she said. “I still can’t believe it, I don’t know what happened.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Linette, who has now knocked out the 19th, 16th and fourth seeds and will face 30th seed Karolina Pliskova for a place in the semi-finals.
“I don’t want to say I didn’t expect it because coming on the court I was confident in how well I’m playing,” she added.
Garcia had endured a 2hr 10min battle just to get to the fourth round and avoid a massive upset against world number 158 Laura Siegemund.
But she started the first set confidently, breaking immediately, but the gritty Linette hung on and refused to lie down.
Garcia started to become more erratic and nerves kicked in as she served for the first set at 5-4.
A double fault gave Linette a break-back point, the Frenchwoman saving it with a crosscourt winner.
But Linette was rewarded for her tenacity with a second chance and this time Garcia went long off a forehand.
France's Caroline Garcia tries to cool off between games while playing against Poland's Magda Linette
In the tiebreak Linette was again the more solid and took it with ease, tellingly committing just eight unforced errors in the entire set against Garcia’s mounting tally of 19.
“She’s such an amazing opponent, such a tough one, especially on the big stage,” said Linette.
“I’m just glad I stayed composed throughout the whole first set and managed to come back again.”
The second set was another tight affair, Linette grabbing the crucial break at 4-4 and serving out for one of the biggest wins of her career.
“I knew I had to serve really well,” Linette said.
“I was taking my time to make sure that the quality of my serve was there, otherwise she was really punishing me. You could see it at the beginning.”
A crestfallen Garcia, who won the WTA Tour finals last season and rose from 74 to a career-high fourth in the rankings in 2022, conceded Linette had been better on the big points.
“She played a good match. She was solid and she stayed focused on what she wanted to do,” said Garcia.
“She went for it at the good moments. Something I was not able to do.”