“I’m like good wine, I age well.” It’s the kind of sentence to put the public of Wimbledon in the pocket. Alizé Cornet pronounced it after having inflicted a sacred pique on the world number 1, the Polish Iga Swiatek, 6-4, 6-2, in the third round of the London Grand Slam. The odds were enormous at the bookmakers. Swiatek had not lost a match since her elimination in the second round in Dubai in February and had won the six tournaments she has played since: Doha, Indian Wells and Miami on hard courts, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland-Garros on clay , establishing herself as the indisputable boss of the circuit since the surprise retirement of the Australian Barty at the start of the year.
“I knew I could do it. Because if there was a moment to beat her, I knew it was on grass. commented Alizé Cornet, who had reached the round of 16 of the Major on grass in 2014 by beating Serena Williams, then world number 1. But since then she had not passed the third round in London. “I live for this kind of game. Even if she was world No. 1 and remained on 37 victories, I believed in it. I need challenge. It’s incredible I’m having the best season of my career. I feel good physically.” continued Cornet, 32, 37th in the world. Certainly Swiatek is not the type to smoke the grass, but we must recognize Cornet the immense merit of having maintained his level throughout the match, by masterfully maneuvering his opponent. In particular, she allowed herself to stick a 6-0 to the Polish woman when she had been broken at the start of the 2nd round to find herself trailing 2-0.
To the 37 victories of Swiatek, the Frenchwoman had such a crazy stat to oppose: she is playing her 62nd consecutive Grand Slam tournament in London. And she waited until 2022 to reach the quarter-finals there, it was in January at the Australian Open. To do at least as well, she will face in the 8th on the London lawn the Australian Ajla Tomljanovic (44th), who released the Czech Barbora Krejcikova (13th).
The good health of French women
If the last Frenchman in the running, Richard Gasquet, packed his bags this afternoon, beaten by the Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1, the Blue experience an upturn on the grass since they will be three in the round of 16. Besides Cornet, Harmony Tan, 24, 115th in the world and victorious over Serena Williams in the first round, qualified by clearly dominating the Briton Katie Boulter (118th and recipient of an invitation, 6-1, 6-1). For her first Major on grass, the Frenchwoman will face the American Amanda Anisimova (25th) on Monday. Tan had never passed three rounds in a main circuit tournament before and had never passed the second round in a Grand Slam (Australia 2022 and Roland-Garros 2021).
Third French at the meeting of the second week: Caroline Garcia, who dominated Chinese Shuai Zhang (41st) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5) on Friday. “It’s been a long time since I had a second week of a Grand Slam and I’m very happy with my match today, the way, the battle and the way I went for the victory in the two tie-breaks”, commented the 28-year-old Lyonnaise who had not reached the round of 16 in a Major since Roland-Garros 2020. Since her career in 2017, she had not won a single match at Wimbledon. She will try on Sunday to climb into the quarters by challenging the Czech Marie Bouzkova (66th).
Garcia won last week on the grass of Bad Homburg (Germany) the 8th title of her career and therefore lined up an eighth victory in a row on Friday, which had not happened to her since she had achieved the double Wuhan- Beijing in 2017. At Wimbledon, she played with two huge bandages on both thighs and was examined by a physio on the court during her match against Zhang on several occasions. “We have to keep winning, push the limits. A little pain never killed anyone!” she assured. Obviously, she doesn’t want to stop on the way either.