Wuhan, Hubei, China, 1 October 2017 | Leigh Rogers

Ashleigh Barty is not leaving Wuhan with the trophy she wanted, but is still set to be rewarded with a new career-high ranking.

The 21-year-old Queenslander is projected to rise to world No.23 next week, skyrocketing from her current No.37 position after scoring four consecutive top-15 wins in Wuhan to reach the biggest final of her singles career.

Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia proved too strong in the championship match, winning an intense, high-quality battle 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-2 in an enthralling two hour, 43 minutes.

The opening game lasted 10 minutes, with Barty serving two aces and saving two break points in a titanic 20-point struggle. Garcia responded with two aces of her own to level in the next game, setting the scene for an epic tussle.

Garcia got the first break in the fifth game of the opening set to take an early lead. She twice served for the set, but could not convert.

Barty dominated the ensuing tiebreak to snare the first set, then quickly raced to a 2-0 lead in the second.

Garcia managed to halt the Australian’s momentum with three consecutive games of her own, but Barty edged ahead again and twice had the opportunity to serve for the match.

“My serve let me down when I was serving for the match,” Barty admitted. “My first serve deserted me a little bit.”

The world No.20-ranked Garcia eventually forced the second set to a tiebreak and from there took control of the match to win her fourth WTA title.

“It was disappointing today, but I left my all out on the court and gave it a red-hot crack,” Barty said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.

“Disappointing not to come away with it in the end. Sometimes the cookie crumbles that way. It was a hell of a match.”

Barty will compete in Beijing next week, where she has received a bye into the China Open second round.