Uncomfortable: Caroline Garcia of France on her way to defeat against Poland's Magda Linette
Melbourne (AFP) - Title contender Caroline Garcia said she “shot herself in the foot” as nerves got the better of her in a last-16 defeat at the Australian Open on Monday.
The fourth seed was one of the favourites for the first Grand Slam of the year but was bundled out by 45th-ranked Magda Linette 7-6 (7⁄3), 6-4 in the last 16.
France’s Garcia, who was ranked 74th a year ago but rose to fourth by the end of 2022, managed to land only 49 percent of her first serves, which she put down to nerves.
As the tension grew, it left her having “a hard time keeping my emotions under control, putting my game in place and releasing myself forward”, she told French reporters at Melbourne Park.
The writing had been on the wall for Garcia in the previous round, when she needed 2hr 10min to avoid a massive upset against world number 158 Laura Siegemund after losing the first set 6-1.
“What was not fluid in my game cost me dearly,” she said in comments in French, after making 33 unforced errors against Linette, who only tallied 14.
“What is annoying is that I can’t free myself, I can’t put my game together,” said Garcia, who won the 2022 season-ending WTA Tour finals.
“I didn’t go to the net much, and that’s what I’m most upset about.”
Asked if being one of the favourites for the title had been too much to handle, she replied: “Yes, I think so.
“It’s one of the things I’m not comfortable with.
“I have to work on it to manage it better. There is the pressure that you put on yourself in relation to what you want to do.
“Generally, when the ranking goes up, it goes up with it.
“My own expectations are pretty high and maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot.”