In an all-French clash the ever-entertaining Alize Cornet faces off against Pauline Parmentier for a place in the third round in Paris. Cornet has twice reached the fourth round in Paris, including last year, and her passionate attempts to end France’s long wait for a singles champion have earned the affection of the Parisian crowd. Parmentier stunned the tennis world by winning the Istanbul Open a decade after winning her last title earlier this season. But will she be able to down Cornet?
Cornet and Parmentier have faced off three times so far in their careers, in a head-to-head that Cornet leads two matches to one. Their first match came in 2012 in the Strasbourg semifinals with Cornet winning in three as she recovered from losing the first set to finish strongly in a 4-6 6-1 6-3 win. Parmentier had her revenge later that year in Tokyo where she downed Cornet in the first round, winning 6-3 6-4. Cornet then scored her second victory over Parmentier in Nuremberg in 2013, winning 6-3 6-4 in the first round.
Path to the second round
Cornet began her Roland Garros campaign against Sara Errani of Italy. Errani, who put together a stunning run to the final at Roland Garros in both singles and women’s doubles in 2012, winning the latter, may not be the force she once was on a clay court. But she is still a fine player and an excellent competitor, and she impressed in taking the first set six games to three. But Cornet was able to raise her game thereafter, and turned the match around to win 2-6 6-2 6-3.
Parmentier faced off against her compatriot Chloe Paquet in the first round in what was, for much of the match, an extremely tough battle. It was the 23-year-old Paquet who won the first set, six games to three. There was precious little to separate the two in the second, but Parmentier’s experience paid dividends in the tiebreak which she won to stay alive. That seemed to knock Paquet’s belief and she faded in the decider losing it 2-6 to send Parmentier into the second round in Paris for the sixth time.
How do they match up?
Cornet is not amongst the biggest hitters on the Tour, but she is not without weapons. Cornet is comfortable taking her backhand both cross-court and down the line, using the latter shot well to open up space in the court or going for clean winners. She also moves well and generally uses the squash-shot to good effect when forced wide to her forehand side. Cornet has good feel, but can be prone to overusing the dropshot to the point of predictability.
Whilst Cornet has struggled against the biggest hitters throughout her career, Parmentier does not number amongst their ranks. The 32-year-old has, throughout her career, relied on consistency from the back of the court to win matches, rather than big weapons. Parmentier does benefit from the extra-time afforded on a clay court as her takebacks, particularly on the backhand side, are substantial. Cornet would do well to try and rush Parmentier as much as possible.
Cornet will likely be approaching this match confidently, having won their two previous clay court encounters. She has also played some of the best tennis of her career on the show courts at Roland Garros, and thus whilst she doesn’t come into this year’s tournament in the best form, she will be able to count on those good memories. There is, in truth, little to separate this pair, but Cornet’s better record should be just enough to swing it in her favour. Cornet in three.