A fascinating all-French clash between Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet awaits on Monday at the French Open with the winner set to advance to their first ever Slam quarter-final in singles.
Garcia d. Hsieh, 6-4 4-6 9-7 (R3)
Garcia is already in uncharted territory after reaching the second week of a Slam for the first time in her career. The Frenchwoman held it together in a high-pressure situation, edging Hsieh Su-Wei out on Court 1. Both players had purple patches during the match and opportunities to serve out the match – Garcia at *5-3 and Hsieh *6-5. Following a duo of solid service games, Garcia was then able to apply pressure on Hsieh’s serve and force errors to bag a huge win.
It was another impressive showing from Hsieh who took the ball so early and flat, and never went away even after losing the first set. Garcia had a few wild moments but always managed to rein it back in. The Frenchwoman battled especially well from 1-3 down in the third set by playing aggressively and taking control of the rallies. On the whole, I was impressed with Garcia and her return was much improved with plenty of balls back in court.
Cornet d. Radwanska, 6-2 6-1 (R3)
Cornet had lost seven of her last eight matches against Agnieszka Radwanska – buoyed by her home crowd, Cornet came away with a very convincing win. The Frenchwoman came out with some sound tactics and more decisive aggression. Cornet also hit an array of drop shot winners, which surprisingly, seemed to flummox Radwanska who was slow to anticipate.
Cornet was much more successful at the net compared to Radwanska, winning 71% of net points compared to Radwanska’s 41%. Cornet swept past the number nine seed in just 79 minutes and broke in all seven of Radwanska’s service games.
Head-to-head record: The pair have played just once before on the ITF circuit in Marseille in 2010 – Garcia won, 7-5 5-7 6-3 as the world number 412!
Interesting stat: Garcia has an excellent three set record, winning 14 of her last 17 matches that have gone the distance. For Cornet, her three set win over Babos in the first round snapped a five match losing streak in three set matches.
Final thoughts: After struggling again with her back at the start of the clay court season, Garcia is rounding into form. Pressure and expectation have often overwhelmed Garcia in Paris – so far this year she has held her nerve very well. There wasn’t a great deal in Cornet’s form pre-RG to suggest she was due a run but the game and heart has always been there on clay and at Roland Garros.
I am very interested to see how the crowd will be for this match. The court placement of this match could have an impact as Garcia has had a few rough experiences on Philippe Chatrier. After the LOL French Fed Cup drama on Twitter and Garcia clearly making out in press that they’re not exactly friends this adds another interesting dynamic to the table.
I think Garcia has the game, with her serve, to beat Cornet – key will be whether she can control her emotions and nerves in the situation. Cornet is one of the grittiest competitors and seems to thrive in these kinds of situations in Paris. I would say that Cornet is the slight favourite in this match – the more I think about it though, the more hopeful I am of Garcia’s chances.