Alize Cornet produced an impressive comeback as she retrieved from a set and a break down, overcoming the tough resistance of 2012 finalist Sara Errani in the opening round of the 2018 French Open as she prevailed with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 scoreline after an hour and 59-minutes of play. Cornet will now play a wildcard and a compatriot, facing either Chloe Paquet or Pauline Parmentier in the second round.
The Frenchwoman took quite some time to settle into the conditions but eventually she was able to come up with 44 winners alongside 33 errors to reach the second round, while Errani’s level of play faltered as the match progressed into the closing stages, winning just 18 percent of her second service points.
Errani strolls to take the first set
In this battle between experienced clay-court players, it was the resurgent Errani who had the better start as she prevailed in the long rallies while everything that came from Cornet was just unforced errors. The encounter seemed to shape itself to be a marathon thriller, with multiple long and draggy rallies with neither of them able to take the initiative and be aggressive.
Nonetheless, Errani’s impressive defence and shot placement allowed her to easily consolidate the break amidst her slow serves which gave Cornet the golden opportunity to pounce on them on every chance. Surprisingly, the Italian was the one starting to dictate play as she controlled the proceedings with her solid groundstrokes while the home favourite found herself in deep trouble having gone down a double-break after just 12 minutes of play.
The home crowd finally had something to cheer for, with Errani wasting game point opportunities before a big forehand return paved the way for Cornet to get on board, retrieving one of the breaks back. However, the Frenchwoman was unable to find the rhythm and range on her serve, ultimately handing back the advantage back to Errani yet again.
After a series of comfortable service holds, it was Errani who successfully served out the first set 6-2 with ease after just a mere 35 minutes of play. The former finalist played an extremely clean set, having hit six winners and just committing three unforced errors whilst Cornet handed out 13 free points.
Cornet fights back from an early deficit and takes the second set
The errors just keep coming from Cornet as the world number 33 was generally impatient during the long rallies and wanted to close out the points, but her aggression backfired instead. A stunning drop shot winner then helped Errani to save a break point before successfully consolidating the break for a commanding 6-2, 2-0 lead in the match.
However, that was the turning point of the match as Cornet started to hit with more precision, cleaning the lines as Errani was helpless against those shots. Clinching the last eight points of the set, the Frenchwoman was hyped up and rattled off six consecutive games to produce the remarkable comeback.
Errani fights hard but Cornet proves to be too strong
It was all back to square one after the exchange of 6-2 sets, though it was surprisingly Errani who turned the tides and managed to draw the first blood in the deciding set, with Cornet serving a double-fault to gift the Italian with the advantage. The twists and turns continued to entertain the crowd, with Cornet finding a way to regain the rhythm and claim four games on the trot, opening up a commanding 4-1 lead.
Errani was able to lessen the deficit and return back on serve, but her own service games were too vulnerable as she often gave Cornet the opportunities to be on the offence and put herself in a disadvantageous position. Yet another strong return earned Cornet the decisive break — which came alongside the perfect chance to serve out the match. Amidst the pressure, the Frenchwoman wasted four match points but was fifth-time lucky as she finally sealed the confidence-boosting win after exactly 119 minutes of play.