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France’s Garcia eyeing Slam title after Christmas on a plane

French United Cup teammates Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet spent Christmas at 39,000 feet in their haste to get to Perth for Thursday’s start of the ATP-WTA United Cup.

The pair made sure to arrive in Western Australia in good time for the kickoff of the inaugural mixed teams event, with the French facing Argentina in their opening tie as they warm-up for the Australian Open in January.

“I had to leave really early from France,” the 36th-ranked Cornet, who considered packing in her career last season but opted against it, told reporters. “I spent Christmas on the plane with Caroline.”

World number four Garcia, who won the WTA Finals last month in Texas following a breakthrough US Open semi-final, will be starting a season ranked inside the top 10 for only the second time in her career.

She has fond memories of the Perth venue, where she played on the 2019 Fed Cup title-winning squad which defeated Australia in the final.

“Winning the Fed Cup (over Australia) was a crazy emotion,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to playing for France here again, I’m happy the new season is starting.”

She added: “Last season was good, but to feel comfortable you need to get into a match rhythm. I’m happy the way it’s going, but one day at a time.”

Garcia said that reaching the final four at the US Open in September — losing in straight sets to Tunisian Ons Jabeur — was a career breakthrough.

“It gave me a lot of confidence that I’d not had before. But the dream remains to win a Grand Slam.

“There are still another few steps to go, but maybe it is possible now.”

Cornet said the Perth ambience brought back good memories of when she won the mixed-teams Hopman Cup for France in 2014.

“This court is a lucky charm and I hope it will be one for the team, we really hope to go far in the tournament,” she said.

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