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Auckland | Cornet upsets Martic

Auckland | Cornet upsets Martic

Alizé Cornet pulled off the biggest upset of the ASB Classic in Auckland on Wednesday after coming back from a set down against No 2 seed Petra Martic to book a quarter-final spot.

There was definitely two marathon matches, yesterday and today, but probably even tougher today because Petra is such a tough opponent. Her level is so high, and she plays amazing. Alizé Cornet

The World No 57 from France was dealt a tough draw in her first tournament of the year and had to battle past lucky loser Ysaline Bonaventure from a set down in the previous round, and then found herself locked into another three-setter against her good friend Martic.

“I do feel very tired [after back-to-back three-setters], but I guess it’s part of the game when you’re playing your first matches of the season,” Cornet told the media afterwards. “You never know what to expect.

“There was definitely two marathon matches, yesterday and today, but probably even tougher today because Petra is such a tough opponent. Her level is so high, and she plays amazing.

“I had to play even better than yesterday, and I did, and I’m so proud because I lost the first set and that was not easy, but I came out of my comfort zone. I did a lot of stuff that I’m proud of today.”

It was the pair’s first meeting since 2010, and the first since Cornet hired Martic’s former coach, Sandra Zanieswka, during the off-season.

“That was not easy for me, definitely, but I guess that was not easy for her either,” Cornet admitted.

“You know, she used to work with my coach now, so that was really weird overall. But I think we did a pretty good job out there. We played a great match with big intensity.”

Ranked at a career high of No 15 in the world, Martic arrived in Auckland after a breakthrough season saw her reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time, as well as lift the trophy in Istanbul.

She couldn’t keep up the momentum against Cornet, though, who struck 22 winners to Martic’s 13, and converted 2 of 5 break points she created.

Cornet struck 3 aces, all during the final game as she served for the match.

Martic took control at the start of the match, punishing the Cornet serve and creating 4 break chances in her opponent’s first 3 service games.

The Croat finally broke through at 4-3, and reeled off the last 4 games in a row to take the opening set at which point Cornet came to life.

The Frenchwoman settled into the match as Martic seemed to ease up and just one break of serve made all the difference for Cornet, earning her first break of the match at 3-2, then serving out the set to bring up a decider.

Cornet reeled off the first 2 games of the final set to open with a 2-0 lead and fought off a late challenge as Martic tried to fight her way back, consolidating to 4-2, but the Frenchwoman served out the match with confidence, sealing the victory with an ace and a hug at the net for her good friend.

“I guess it just happened to be the best time to do my first aces of the match!” Cornet laughed. “But three in a row? Come on! I don’t even know how it happened.”

Into the quarter-finals in Auckland, Cornet will take on America’s Jessica Pegula in her next match, who took down Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia, 6-2 6-3, in just over an hour to advance.

“We played each other a few months ago at the US Open, first round,” Cornet said.

“I won this match in two sets, and it was not easy but I played a really solid match. So I know what to expect, and I guess she knows what to expect too.”

No 3 seed Amanda Anisimova from the USA turned in an impressive performance to also move into the quarters, defeating the unseeded Daria Kasatkina, 6-2 6-4, in an hour and 14 minutes.

This time last year, Kasatkina was ensconced in the Top 10 while Anisimova was barely inside the Top 100 at World No 87, but in a mark of their diverging fortunes over the last 12 months, it was the American teenager who looked every inch the top player on Wednesday.

In her first meeting with the Russian, Anisimova smothered her opponent with smooth power and baseline accuracy, striking a series of winners off both wings to every corner of the court.

The 18-year-old aimed to climb on top of points as soon as possible, and once she had succeeded in pushing Kasatkina back with heavy serves and punishing returns that exposed the World No 70’s soft serve, Anisimova rarely relinquished control of a rally.

Up next for Anisimova will be a first meeting with wildcard Eugenie Bouchard.

The Canadian, ranked No 267 these days, snapped a long drought at WTA level to reach her first quarter-final since this tournament a year ago with a 6-4 6-4 upset of France’s No 8 seed Caroline Garcia.

In the doubles, Serena Williams & Caroline Wozniacki continued their happy breeze through the draw with a straight sets demolition of the top seeds.

The scratch pair beat Sweden’s Johanna Larsson & American Caroline Dolehide, 6-2 6-1, in 52 minutes, with Williams, who hit a number of winners, even impressing her partner.

The retiring Wozniacki said in a post-match interview that she wished she could do some of the things Williams, a 16-time women’s Grand Slam doubles winner to go with 23 major singles titles, could do.

Williams & Wozniacki will next face the winner of the clash between all-Belgian pairing of Kirsten Flipkens & Alison Van Uytvanck against American Desirae Krawczyk & German Laura Siegemund, who play on Thursday.

In the bottom half of the draw, Americans Coco Gauff & Catherine McNally, who dispatched the second seeds on Tuesday, continued their run to the quarters with a straight sets win over the Aussie team of Jessica Moore & Arina Rodionova, 6-3 6-2.

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