Cornet reaches quarterfinals at her 63rd Grand Slam
MELBOURNE – Alize Cornet dropped to her knees on the hard blue court, clasped her hands and took a few moments to let it sink in. In her 17th trip to the Australia Open, her 63rd run at a Grand Slam, and two days after celebrating her 32nd birthday, Cornet finally qualified for the quarterfinals at one of the four major events in tennis.
Cornet recovered after a second-set meltdown in the hot Melbourne sun on Monday to advance to the last eight at the Australian Open with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over two-time major champion Simona Halep. “It’s never too late to try again!” Cornet said in her on-court TV interview. “To be in my first quarterfinal. It’s a dream come true. “The journey goes on. I still can’t believe it.”
No. 115-ranked Kaia Kanepi had the same feeling, waiting until she was 36 to reach the quarterfinals in Australia and finally advancing when, after wasting four match points, she upset second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (7). Within seconds, fourth-seeded Stefanos Tistsipas defeated No. 20 Taylor Fritz 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to conclude Day 8.
Cornet will next play American Danielle Collins, a 2019 Australian Open semifinalist who beat 19th-seeded Elise Mertens 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in an almost three-hour match to open play on Rod Laver Arena. Kanepi’s match had to be shifted off the main stadium court because of a late-finishing day program. Kanepi wrapped it up just after midnight on Margaret Court Arena to set up a showdown against 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek, who beat Sorana Cirstea 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
The marquee afternoon men’s match was on Margaret Court Arena, where U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev beat 70th-ranked Maxime Cressy 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 7-5. The second-ranked Medvedev is trying to become the first man in the Open era to win his second major singles title in the next Grand Slam event. The U.S. Open champion is now potentially three wins from achieving that.
Cressy’s serve-and-volley style created some frustrations for Medvedev, who said late in the fourth set that this was the “most unlucky day I’ve ever had in my life.” His luck changed quickly. After saving eight break-point chances in the set, Cressy was broken in that game and Medvedev served out at love. He will next play ninth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, who beat 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 2-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2, 7-6 (4). Medvedev beat the Canadian in the semifinals at last year’s U.S. Open. No. 11 Jannik Sinner ended Australia’s last hope in the men’s draw when he beat No. 32 Alex de Minaur 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4. He will next face Tsitsipas.