For the second time in three weeks, Alizé Cornet knocked Bianca Andreescu out of a grass-court tournament at her first hurdle, winning their delayed Wimbledon first round 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 22 minutes.
The Frenchwoman had won their second-round clash in Berlin a fortnight ago 7-6(2), 7-5, going on to reach her first grass-court semifinal. In that match, she had led 4-1 in both sets before getting pegged back by a battling Andreescu - but this time round, Cornet was efficient at maintaining her early leads.
In Berlin, Cornet had professed her surprise at her strong grass form after a disappointing clay season. But it was the World No.58's substantial experience on the surface, where she famously upset Serena Williams at Wimbledon 2014, that was key again.
Cornet, 31, is playing her 14th Wimbledon, having competed in every main draw since 2007. Andreescu is playing her third, having qualified in 2017 and lost in the first round to Kristina Kucova, and fallen in 2018 qualifying to Antonia Lottner. Indeed, the 21-year-old Canadian only captured her first WTA main draw win on grass last week in Eastbourne over Christina McHale.
As in Berlin, Cornet blended hard, flat forehand strikes with deft net play and breathtaking defence to out-manoeuvre her opponent. Andreescu, meanwhile, was increasingly unsure of her footing - which Cornet took full advantage of by wheeling out the dropshot whenever the former US Open champion slipped on the slick grass.
Cornet's experience on the surface and confidence drawn from the Berlin win translated into superior play on big points. The first set was much closer than the scoreline suggests, with Andreescu deploying some fine slices and dropshots herself that demonstrated her potential on grass.
But from 2-2, Cornet won four multi-deuce tussles in a row as Andreescu was unable to find any consistency in important moments. As she fell behind a double break, the No.5 seed alternated between thrilling winners and sloppy errors, particularly on the overhead. By contrast, on multiple occasions Cornet would extract herself from tight service games with unreturnable deliveries.
Two more Andreescu slips early in the second set derailed her attempt to maintain scoreboard pressure. Instead, Cornet rattled off 12 consecutive points to sail into a 4-0 lead. Andreescu steadied herself and briefly made the conclusion of the match slightly tighter. However, a gutsy hold from 0-40 down put Cornet ahead 5-1, and the former World No.11 finished with a flourish.
On her first match point, she somehow dug up a miraculous lob that landed smack in the opposite corner. It earned an overjoyed Cornet a standing ovation from the No.2 Court crowd.
Kasatkina, Ostapenko win openers to set second-round clash
Two of the leading lights of the 1997-born generation will resume a fascinating rivalry in the second round after No.31 seed Daria Kasatkina overcame Patricia Maria Tig 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 and Jelena Ostapenko blitzed Leylah Fernandez 6-1, 6-2.
The pair squared off last week in the Eastbourne quarterfinals, with Ostapenko winning 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 to edge ahead 3-2 in their overall head-to-head. The Latvian went on to her fourth career title, and she brought the same sparkling form into SW19, where she was previously a semifinalist in 2018.
The talented 18-year-old Fernandez, who picked up her own maiden title in Monterrey in March, was a potential banana skin. But Ostapenko needed only 55 minutes to power through, forcing the Canadian on to a defensive footing for the majority of the match.
A sprinkling of six double faults was Ostapenko's only worry. But after two of them led to a break in her first service game, she shook them off well, facing only one more break point in the match. Moreover, she offset this by teeing off on Fernandez's serve at every opportunity, breaking the World No.71 six times in total.
After a dominant opening set, Kasatkina was significantly challenged as Tig found the mark with some laser groundstrokes. But the Russian regained the upper hand by upping her aggression in the deciding set, closing the match out with a succession of fizzing forehands.
Juvan scores career-best win with Bencic upset; Sorribes Tormo wins stylistic contrast over Konjuh
World No.102 Kaja Juvan ousted another high seed in the first round of Wimbledon, out-manoeuvring No.9 seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 20 minutes.
The Slovenian had begun 2021 in fine form, compiling an 11-4 record through to the second round of Monterrey - where she suffered a positive coronavirus test, forcing her to withdraw from that tournament. Juvan returned to action in Madrid, but coming into Wimbledon had lost all five of her matches since.
The 20-year-old delivered a supreme tactical performance against Bencic, who was runner-up in Berlin two weeks ago. Both players fired 22 winners, but Juvan was watertight with 13 unforced errors to Bencic's 28. The Swiss player was also beset by six double faults, at one point turning to her team to ask: "Are you guys gonna help me with my serve or what?"
Juvan also delighted the crowd with several brilliantly constructed points as she closed out her third Top 20 win. The final game featured a dropshot return followed by a deft lob and a forehand pass to finish, and a few points later Juvan struck another pass off her backhand wing to reach match point.
One of the most extreme stylistic contrasts of the first round pitted Sara Sorribes Tormo against qualifier Ana Konjuh. It did not disappoint in terms of entertainment: both Konjuh's power and Sorribes Tormo's indefatigable defence were breathtaking, but it was the latter which won the day 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Sorribes Tormo needed to withstand a barrage of 47 winners from the Croat, but her proficiency on the slice and at net signalled that the Guadalajara champion could be a force on grass as well as her native clay. Frequently, Sorribes Tormo demonstrated remarkable reflexes in the forecourt, even when pulled in by surprise net cords.
Commitment to coming to net also paid off for Konjuh, but the former World No.20 was ultimately sunk by 51 unforced errors, including 12 double faults.
Pavlyuchenkova, Muchova through; Linette repeats Anisimova win
No.16 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No.19 seed Karolina Muchova were both efficient winners in their belated first-round matches. Pavlyuchenkova won her first match since reaching the Roland Garros final 6-2, 6-2 over Ana Bogdan, while Muchova eased past Nottingham runner-up Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-3.
Both are former quarterfinalists at Wimbledon - Pavlyuchenkova reached that stage in 2016, while Muchova upset compatriot Karolina Pliskova in a classic fourth-round on her SW19 debut in 2019. They remain on course to clash in the third round this year.
In 2019, Magda Linette pulled off a minor upset in the second round of The Championships, defeating Amanda Anisimova - who was fresh off a Roland Garros semifinal run - 6-4, 7-5. The Pole reprised that in the first round this year, coming from a set and a break down to beat the American 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. By the end, Linette was moving the ball around the court with ease, and sealed victory by knifing a slice down the line.