PARIS (Reuters) - France’s Alize Cornet dug deep to recover from a set down to defeat Italian Sara Errani 2-6 6-2 6-3 in a show of powerful baseline hitting on Sunday to progress to the second round of the French Open.
The 32-seed struggled to find her forehand range early on and Errani tested her heavily-strapped left thigh with a series of delicious drop shots that left Cornet rooted to the spot.
At one point in the first set, Cornet vented her frustration at a ball boy and drawing boos from the crowd, before she slowly began to dictate the match from the back of the court in the second set with her powerful backhand.
“I finally got going, but almost too late,” said Cornet, who two weeks ago was cleared of an anti-doping violation after a charge against her for missing three out-of-competition drug tests was dismissed.
Rediscovering her range from the baseline, Cornet started to pump her fist rather than mutter to herself as the groundstrokes flowed with growing confidence. She roused the crowd from its post-lunch slumber, driving the ball low and hard to Errani and forcing her into defensive strokes.
Errani, who was making her 11th consecutive main draw appearance at Roland Garros, surrendered the second set 6-1, losing it in a game to love and the tide had turned.
It was now the Italian talking to herself as she increasingly found the net from the back of the court.
Cornet dominated the third set, herself now mixing up baseline drives and deft drop shots that drifted inches over the net. As she closed in on her win, her heavily-strapped left thigh showed signs of troubling her and twice in a serving game she fell to her knee.
Roared on by the Philippe Chatrier court, Cornet squandered three successive match points in the deciding set, first with a double fault and then two overbaked shots from the back before Errani netted the ball to hand Cornet victory.
“The crowed gave me so much energy. It was crazy out there,” a smiling Cornet said.
Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Christian Radnedge