Alize Cornet has earned a reputation amongst tennis fans as a player who entertains with her tennis, and more often than not with a bit of drama. Whether I’m at a tournament live or watching at home on my laptop, I usually make it a point to watch Cornet. She’s expressive, emotional and some of her reactions have become legendary gifs enjoyed by many tennis fans.
Last year, Cornet shocked the tennis world by handing world #1 Serena Williams three losses, and 2014 was her best season since her breakout year in 2008. But backing up a big win is no easy feat, and only after one of those wins (in Wuhan after Williams retired in the first set of their match), did Cornet manage to follow up with another victory.
Yesterday, Cornet secured her sixth career Top 5 win at the Mutua Madrid Open with a first-round, straight set victory over world #2 Simona Halep, last year’s French Open finalist (and a finalist here in Madrid). Less than 24 hours later, she stepped onto Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario Stadium to try and ride the momentum after such a big win.
Whereas on Sunday in La Caja Mágica, Cornet was not expected to win, today she was by far the higher ranked opponent in her match against veteran Roberta Vinci. But, the Italian had never lost to Cornet, who later admitted to feeling more nervous in her match today than she was yesterday against Halep.
The match was a tug of war, with long points and games throughout. Neither player could hold serve in the first set, with seven breaks in a 6-4 set won by the Italian. The second set was similar, tho Vinci grabbed an early 2-0 lead as she went on a run of five straight games before Cornet got on the board. The crowd was small but enthusiastic as both players showed off their great variety and passion for the game.
In the end, it was the #46-ranked Vinci who kept her perfect record against Cornet intact with a 6-4, 7-5 win in a 2-hour, 3-minute battle. The pair played 169 points and each had 14 chances to break serve.
The match, according to a disappointed Cornet, “was just a festival of missed opportunities for me.”
On her now 0-4 record against Vinci, the Frenchwoman said, “apparently she seems to like my game and I don’t like hers.” She admitted “it’s very, very frustrating especially after the huge match that I pulled out yesterday. Losing today not even 24 hours later is really tough for me. You know I tried everything and fought until the end but Roberta really deserved this match because she did exactly the right things.”
Cornet said she needed more than a day to recover from the emotions of upsetting Halep, and said although she was ready for Vinci it was a hard turnaround. “You pass through so many emotions in just one day. Yesterday I was the happiest girl in the world beating the world #2 and now I’m just really down because I couldn’t really use this chance to go further in the tournament. You just have to get yourself back together and it’s not easy.”
After achieving four Top 5 wins last year, Cornet said she’s still coming to terms for the year she had. “I think I have to digest the year I had last year, because it was a huge one.” Perhaps that helps explain her fairly mediocre 2015. She started the season ranked #19 but has slipped to #27 after compiling a 10-10 record heading into Madrid. In nine tournaments, she’s only won back to back matches three times.
Vinci now moves on to face Lucie Safarova while Cornet prepares for Rome.
A few more comments on the day’s action:
- Serena Williams cruised against Sloane Stephens. In a gusty night match, Serena dealt her compatriot the most lopsided scoreline of their rivalry. The first set was quick though it was a 6-4 advantage to the world #1, then Sloane just couldn’t offer any resistance in the second set as she only won 9 points in a 6-0 set as Williams won in 58 minutes.
- Serena’s BFF, Caroline Wozniacki, was down a break in the first set against Christina McHale (who’s beaten her twice) but came back to win 7-5, 6-0. Similar to the Serena/Sloane scoreline, McHale only won 5 points in the second set. I watched part of the first set, and honestly this was not compelling tennis. Wozniacki plays Agnieszka Radwanska next.
- I’m not anti-ATP, but I have just felt the women’s match ups have been much more interesting, partially because the top seeds here do not get first-round byes. Today was a great day for the USA men, as John Isner, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson all got wins today. Tuesday will see some of the top guys get their first matches in Madrid as Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka are on tap as are Grigor Dimitrov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
I’ll leave you with the match summary from the Cornet/Vinci match: