Cornet's French Open Milestone
Published May 22, 2014 12:13
While her reign as Strasbourg champion may have come to an abrupt end at the hands of Camila Giorgi on Tuesday evening, Alizé Cornet is unlikely to have been feeling too down about life as she made the short journey to Paris for the year's second major.
This year, Cornet has scored wins over two of the game's leading lights, overcoming the mighty Serena Williams in Dubai and then Agnieszka Radwanska en route to the title in Katowice. And the results are all the more impressive considering the fact that before Dubai she had lost all 17 of her encounters with members of the Top 4.
She heads to Roland Garros perched at her highest ranking in over five years and with high hopes of surpassing her previous best showing, third round runs in 2008 and 2013.
"I started when I was 15 and I've been playing every year since. I think, though, that this year might be the best and my chance to go the furthest I've been," Cornet said.
Remarkably, despite not turning 25 until next January, the Frenchwoman will be competing at her home major for the 10th time.
"It's unbelievable, it's my 10th birthday at Roland Garros," she added. "I hope they're going to bring a cake on the court! It's very special for me to play this 10th Roland Garros and I'm thinking that I could go for 20, but maybe that will be a few too many. It's a long time!"
A lot has changed since her debut against Alina Jidkova a decade ago, most notably, the pressure.
"When I was a teenager, I was less stressed than now because I wasn't conscious of the situation. I had zero pressure because nobody was expecting anything from me, so I was just going for it and giving my best," she said. "And I think those were the best years, because, although I was putting pressure on myself, I was an underdog and anything I achieved was a bonus. It was in a way easier to win.
"Now, I'm more the favorite. I'm French No.1 and it's exciting because I have a status and a ranking to protect. It's nice. This evolution in tennis is very nice, because if you'd told me 10 years ago that I'd be Top 20 now, Top 100 for, like, eight years, I wouldn't have believed it. I'm very happy with my career so far."
So with all this personal history at one of tennis' most storied venues, what has been the best memory?
"Of course, I think it's the first one, in 2005," Cornet said. "I won my first round against a Russian girl, who was like No.60, so it was a really good match for me. I couldn't believe I'd won my first round - I was on my knees and the crowd was going crazy - and I knew that in the second round I would play Amélie Mauresmo.
"So I went onto Suzanne Lenglen to play the idol of my youth and I played my game. Of course, I lost easily in two sets, but I played my match and just thought it was unbelievable to play against a girl who was on a poster in my room. That was definitely one of the greatest memories."