Cornet advances, Zhang shocked

8 January 2019, by Leigh Rogers

Happy memories are inspiring former champion Alize Cornet this week.

The sixth-seeded Cornet made a winning start to her 2019 campaign, beating Australian qualifier Alison Bai 6-4 6-2 on Centre Court today.

“When I come here I always remember the year 2016 when I won, so of course it feels very special. I see my pictures here in the player lounge and that makes me excited,” she said.

Cornet is hoping to emulate that winning run – but isn’t daring to dream just yet.

“It would mean the world – but it’s a long way to go,” she said.

“Any kind of title is special to win and of course here it would be special as it would be the second time, but I’m not thinking about this right now. I’m thinking about the tough match I have coming up against Pauline (Parmentier). I’m taking it match by match.”

Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova scored a big upset, eliminating third seed Zhang Shuai 6-2 0-6 6-2 in the first round.

“It was a really tough match. She’s a great player. We had already played once and I lost, so for me it was a good opportunity to get revenge,” Blinkova said.

Zhang, the world No.40, lifted in the second set to put the pressure on her younger opponent.

“In the second set, every game was deuce-advantage, deuce-advantage. Of course it was disappointing to lose every game when it is such a battle,” the No.96-ranked Blinkova said.

“After the second set I went to the bathroom and washed my face and told myself ‘Anna, forget about the past and begin again from zero’.”

Blinkova now faces Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round – meaning her plans of sight-seeing in her first visit to Hobart must wait.

“I still haven’t had the chance to see a Tasmanian devil, but on the other hand I want to stay longer in the tournament,” she said. “It’s a good problem.”

In other matches, world No.46 Viktoria Kuzmova continued her impressive early season form in a 6-3 6-3 first win over Timea Babos.

The 20-year-old Slovakian, who reached the semifinals in Auckland last week, lost only nine points on serve in the first-round match.