PARIS, France - Alizé Cornet threw everything at Victoria Azarenka - loops, slices, angles, and of course some big groundstrokes - but it just wasn't enough in the end, and despite some trouble with her serve the World No.3 advanced to the fourth round of Roland Garros in three sets, 46 63 61.
The two players put on a show on Court Philippe Chatrier, Azarenka with her huge groundstrokes and Cornet with all kinds of variety - in fact their ground games were so strong the holds were few and far between. But in the end Cornet got the most critical of breaks, a love break in the last game of the set that included two big forehand winners - including a big one up the line on a return on set point.
Cornet's momentum wouldn't last, though, and despite some tight games early in the second set and a break in the first game of the third the Frenchwoman couldn't hold off the No.3-seeded Belarusian.
"I don't think I really played the right way, or my best way, in the first set, and she definitely took advantage of that and took chances on the important moments," Azarenka said. "It was important to turn things around and finally start playing the right way in the second set, because I felt that I was playing very comfortable for her, and she started to make a lot of winners and a lot of balls.
"So I changed that a little bit in the second set and really took my chances, moving forward, and continued to stay aggressive. That's what was bringing me the points, and the victory in the end."
Azarenka's serve was a little shaky, though - she was broken six times in 13 service games.
"I think I left it, you know, at home today - I really felt that I left my serve at home," Azarenka said of her delivery. "But if I can win that match serving like this, that's pretty remarkable, I have to say.
"But it doesn't matter what's going on on the court. I'm going to fight for whatever it is and turn things around as much as I possibly can until I have the last point. So that was definitely a little bit of my fighting spirit. And I have two days to make the serve better. I'm not really worried about it."
Cornet was thoroughly impressed with Azarenka's play, though disappointed she couldn't win.
"She's a machine, a juggernaut - she plays the same from the first to the last point," Cornet said. "She even raised her game, while mine dipped. And even though I started well in the third, it was a bit too late to turn things around. I should have sustained my level from the first set and a half on."
It has been a very good run for Cornet, though - last week she collected her third WTA title at Strasbourg, and this week she had two good wins to extend her win streak to seven matches in a row.
The World No.27 - a former World No.11 - also pushed one of the very best to a tough three-setter.
"I feel like when I play my best tennis, I can beat anybody," Cornet said. "She's ranked No.3 in the world. I let my guard down a little bit and she took control - that's something very important I need to do differently. I have to keep my highest intensity throughout the whole match against the top players. Maybe I'll unlock that door if I can keep on playing matches against the Top 10 players.
"But I'm still delighted with what I have done here at Roland Garros and over the last few months."