Gar­cia grabs chance to be the ‘hunted’

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - ADAM SMITH

AN early exit from her first tour­na­ment of 2019 was not the ideal start for Caro­line Gar­cia and the world No. 19 is de­ter­mined to make use of her maiden ap­pear­ance in Ho­bart next week.

Gar­cia, who was bun­dled out of the first round of the Shen­zhen Open, was handed a wild­card into the Ho­bart In­ter­na­tional and as the high- est ranked player in the draw is the top seed.

Com­ing off a sea­son in which she hit a ca­reer high mark of No.4 in Septem­ber, the French­woman is eye­ing off greater glory at the first Grand Slam of the year but is well aware of the im­por­tance of pro­gress­ing deep in Ho­bart to help achieve that feat.

“It is a good prepa­ra­tion for the Aus­tralian Open, I came here for matches and hope- fully I will get them,” Gar­cia said.

“Ob­vi­ously be­fore Slams the plan is to play well in the first tour­na­ment you play then to rest a lit­tle bit to re­cover.

“It didn’t hap­pen like this for me in Shen­zhen. I had a de­ci­sion be­tween prac­tice in Mel­bourne but I was afraid it was too long, I wanted to play matches be­cause com­pe­ti­tion is what I like and need.

“I am very happy the tour- na­ment di­rec­tor gave me the wild­card.”

A win­ner of six WTA ti­tles, Gar­cia last year reached the fourth round of the Aus­tralian Open.

She knows be­ing the top seed she will be the hunted, but is con­fi­dent she can han­dle the ex­pec­ta­tions.

“It is a very good draw in Ho­bart, it is an in­ter­na­tional event so a lit­tle bit lower than Syd­ney but we can see, it is closed at 60, 70, it is very strong for an in­ter­na­tional event.

“There are a lot of play­ers who have been bet­ter rank­ings than they are now and you know with the con­di­tions and the be­gin­ning of the year, ev­ery match is very com­pli­cated no mat­ter who you play.

“I’ve been top 10, I think I had good ex­pe­ri­ence from last year as seed No. 1, you want to go far and that’s my goal, but will see what I can do.”

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