Ill Cornet Survives to Capture Singles, Doubles Titles at WTA Budapest

Posted on July 14, 2008

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Earlier this year, Alize Cornet reached the semifinals or better four times on clay, including finals at Acapulco and Rome, but was always falling just short of her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title. In Budapest she changed all that, cruising through her first three matches losing just 11 games then winning a tight two-setter against Andreja Klepac in the final to capture the Gaz de France Grand Prix.

Cornet's early season clay court results propelled her far up the rankings -- she was a finalist at Acapulco and Rome, with semifinals at Amelia Island and Charleston, and during that time she went from outside the Top 50 to inside the Top 20 -- but this past week she finally went all the way at a clay court event. Seeded No.2 at the Tier III Gaz de France Grand Prix she was barely challenged in the early rounds, beating Magdalena Rybarikova 62 62, Anna-Lena Groenefeld 62 63 and Greta Arn 61 61 to reach her third final of the year.

Cornet had more trouble against Klepac. Klepac, who was unseeded but had taken out No.1 seed Agnes Szavay to make the title match, came out firing, building a 5-3 lead in the first set. But Cornet's grit and determination helped her overcome the slow start as she rallied to take the first set in a tie-break, and she cruised through the second set to complete a 76(5) 63 victory for the title.

"I was sick this morning; I went to see the doctor before my match and I was not sure I'd be able to play, so it was tough in the beginning of the match, especially since she hits the ball so hard and I knew I had to move well to have a chance," Cornet said. "But when I was behind I just fought as hard as I could, and after I won the first set things went much better for me the rest of the match."

Klepac had had a much tougher semifinal victory than Cornet on Saturday; the Slovenian rallied back from 3-0 down in the third to win a 62 46 64 marathon against former Top 20 player Karolina Sprem. The grinding victory certainly didn't help her as she would face current Top 20 player Cornet the next day.

"I knew she had a difficult match yesterday," Cornet said. "For my part I had quite an easy day yesterday, so without my GI illness I was probably in a much better position today physically. But she's really a fighter."

Cornet was one of just two players in the current Top 20 not to have won a Tour title but now shakes that tag, leaving Victoria Azarenka as the only one (the Belarusian has reached four finals though). Cornet also becomes the first French player to win a Tour singles title so far this year (they are now 1-3 in finals).

"I'm so happy to win today. It's my first victory on the Tour, so it's very special. It's my favorite surface and it's a big tournament -- a Tier III -- so it's really just unbelievable. I've had great results on clay this season. I was just really happy to be able to compete so well in Budapest this week."

After the singles final, Cornet took the court again in the doubles final, partnering Janette Husarova against Vanessa Henke and Ioana Raluca Olaru. Seeded No.3, they beat the unseeded German-Romanian duo in a match tie-break, 67(5) 61 106; it was Cornet's first Tour doubles title and Husarova's 24th. Cornet will now head to Bad Gastein, where she is the No.2 seed at a Tier III clay court event yet again, at the Gastein Ladies, which begins Monday.

"I've had a great time playing doubles with Janette this week; she's a great doubles player and I like her very much," Cornet added. "There won't be any celebration today! I'm still a little bit sick so I'll probably just go to bed really early tonight. My flight to Austria is at 8am!"
-- Courtesy Sony Ericsson WTA Tour