French Open: Alize Cornet survives marathon against Timea Babos

A thrilling first round encounter between two unseeded players at the French Open saw Alize Cornet prevail in a 2 hour and 35 minutes battle against Timea Babos, fending off the tough challenge of the Hungarian who was generally wasteful on her opportunities today.

Cornet steals the first set

Timea Babos had the perfect start to the match as she managed to hit some strong winners, allowing her to break serve in the opening game, looking very solid early on. A couple of backhand unforced errors from Cornet then allowed the Hungarian to consolidate the break of serve easily, winning the first eight of 10 points.

Timea Babos would rue her missed opportunities | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Timea Babos would rue her missed opportunities | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Babos initially had the golden opportunity to extend her lead as she earned two more break points in the third game, looking very comfortable on the Paris clay courts despite the crowd cheering for her opponent. However, unforced errors came untimely for Babos as she committed two forehand errors on both break points.

Cornet eventually held her serve in the tight game as she managed to lessen the deficit and get herself on the scoreboard, looking to make a comeback as the home crowd cheered her on. Babos would rue all the missed opportunities as she was broken in the next game, allowing the Frenchwoman to return level all of a sudden.

Alize Cornet in action | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Alize Cornet in action | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Cornet prevailed in yet another tough game as she survived a marathon 14-minute game in which she saved four break points and still managed to hold her serve, displaying some tough mentality there. Coming from a game point down in the next game, Cornet’s amazing run continued when she broke serve once more, with Babos serving a double fault on break point.

The Hungarian’s poor luck with break points was once again shown in the following game, with the former Top 20 player saving another two break points to hold her serve and be a game away from winning the first set. Unable to convert a game point while serving to stay in the set after hitting a backhand unforced error, Babos’ sloppy play was taken advantage by Cornet, who eventually clinched the first set 6-2 after winning six games in a row in 48 minutes of play. A statistic worth noting is that Cornet was 3/3 (100 percent) on break points in this set while Babos was 1/10 (10 percent) on those crucial points.

Alize Cornet celebrates winning a hard-fought point | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Alize Cornet celebrates winning a hard-fought point | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Babos mounts a huge comeback

Carrying over the momentum from the first set, Cornet had the perfect start to the second set as she comfortably held her serve in the opening game. Babos followed suit after hitting a backhand winner on game point and it was just a string of service holds which followed, with neither players able to make a breakthrough.

We had to wait all the way until the eighth game for the first break point of the set as three forehand unforced errors proved to be costly for Babos, with her inconsistent play allowing Cornet to make the first breakthrough and break serve for a formidable 5-3 lead, being just one game away from winning the match.

Timea Babos gets frustrated with herself | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Timea Babos gets frustrated with herself | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Serving for the match, the Frenchwoman felt the pressure and allowed Babos to break straight back, returning level on serve. Despite owning a match point on Babos’ serve, Cornet failed to convert her chances well as the Hungarian managed to mount a huge comeback to increase her chances of sending the match into a deciding set once again. An exchange of service holds then saw the second set being brought into a tiebreak, with Babos looking the favourite to close the set out after jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Despite some tough resistance from the Frenchwoman, Babos eventually closed out the tiebreak with a 7-5 scoreline.

Cornet seals the victory

Similar to the second set, Cornet opened the final set on a positive note as she managed to save two game points before breaking serve to get the early lead. With the Frenchwoman looking to consolidate the break, she looked certain to extend her lead as she owned a 40-0 lead in the next game but Babos made an inspired comeback as she won the next five points to level the match once again.

Alize Cornet shrugs off the disappointment | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Alize Cornet shrugs off the disappointment | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Nevertheless, the Hungarian failed to hold onto the momentum as Cornet provided the best reply possible as she broke straight back and regained the lead. This time, the lower-ranked player of the pair managed to consolidate the break and extend her lead to two games.

Cornet’s amazing run continued as she managed to break serve once more to have a double break advantage, looking poised to get the win in front of her home crowd. Fending off two break points along the way, Cornet was just one game away from the victory when she held her serve narrowly, and eventually served the match out to love without any problems as the home crowd roared and gave their loudest cheers, motivating the Frenchwoman to continue fighting and inspired her to produce some of her best tennis.

Alize Cornet triumphs eventually | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Alize Cornet triumphs eventually | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

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