x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Semi-final tilt with Serena ‘is a little bit of a bonus’ for Cornet

Alize Cornet gets past Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets as world No 1 Serena Williams awaits her in the semi-finals at the Dubai Duty Free Championships, writes Gary Meenaghan.

France's Alize Cornet serves the ball to Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro during their quater-final match in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on February 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN NAAMANI
France's Alize Cornet serves the ball to Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro during their quater-final match in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on February 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN NAAMANI

DUBAI // Alize Cornet will emit excitement rather than fearfulness tonight when she faces Serena Williams, the world No 1, in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-final.

The world No 26 impressed during a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 victory over the Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro at the Aviation Club on Thursday night, dragging her opponent around the court with a mixture of strong and precise baseline forehands and clever drop shots.

“It was tough because she has a very special game with a lot of top spin, so sometimes it is difficult to control the ball with her,” Cornet, of France, said.

She said Suarez Navarro’s three-set victory over Petra Kvitova might have left her opponent weary. “I think she was a little tired … so I tried to make her run and I was a little more consistent on the important points.”

Cornet has rarely felt as confident in her abilities, although she accepts meeting the 17-time grand slam winner Williams will provide a different test to anything she has faced this week. “I believe in myself and will do my best and try to forget who is on the other side of the net,” the 24 year old said.

“I’ll try to bother her with my top spin and my fighting spirit, but it’s just great to play her. I am happy and excited more than anything.

“It has been a great tournament for me so far, so playing Serena is a little bit of a bonus.

“It’s a gift because now I can compare myself to the best player in the world and one of the best in history; it’s a good chance for me to see where I am now that I am back at my best level and in the semi-final.”

Cornet has yet to beat Williams in three attempts, the most recent coming last year in Brisbane.

“Right now, I am feeling very good in my tennis – one of the best sensations of my career so far, so it will definitely be a different match,” she said.

“I will try to be aggressive, good on my legs and try to defend my points and serve well because she will definitely try to kill me on my second serve.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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