France's Caroline Garcia survived an epic battle with Daria Kasatkina 4-6 6-1 7-6(5), sending over 42 winners to claim the final spot in the semis of the WTA Finals on Saturday, as world number one Iga Swiatek cruised past American Coco Gauff.
The Cincinnati winner had played some of the best tennis of her career this summer, reaching the U.S. Open semi-final, and showed her fighting spirit was intact in Fort Worth, Texas, as she outlasted Kasatkina in a 32-point rally for match point.
She will next face Greek Maria Sakkari.
"Every match we say you have to give it all and no regrets, go for it, and it’s always true, but in this tournament even more," Garcia said in a televised interview after the match.
"I really tried to give everything I had."
The typically steely nerved Garcia lost her cool in the first set as Kasatkina broke her to love in the ninth game, flinging a banana against her bench in utter frustration.
She regained her composure in the second set, bulldozing through the Roland Garros semi-finalist with her trademark aggressive style.
But the pair produced the most thrilling tennis of the season-ending tournament in the 80-minute third-set duel, trading breaks twice before Kasatkina fended off six break points in the ninth game.
Garcia dropped to her knees in utter exhaustion after clinching the affair at the net after 2-1/2 hours, stepping gingerly to the umpire for a handshake before standing hunched over with her hands braced on her knees.
Featuring in the finals for the first time since 2017, she'll hope to be fully recovered for Sakkari, whom she beat in the fourth round at Cincinnati.
The world number five looks tough as ever, after flattening all three of her round robin opponents.
"The last match in Cincinnati was a very tight one," said Garcia. "She’s playing some great tennis ... it will be a very different game as today."
Three-times major winner Swiatek had already claimed her spot in the semi-final round and made quick work of Gauff 6-3 6-0, winning the final 10 straight games in a rematch of their Roland Garros final earlier this year.
The Polish phenom has not dropped a set so far in Fort Worth and next faces number seven Aryna Sabalenka, whom she defeated en route to the title at Flushing Meadows in September.
It marked the end of a bitterly disappointing WTA Finals debut for 18-year-old Gauff, who was unable to record a win in the group stage.