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Cornet puts Goerges winning streak on ice in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia - Alizé Cornet captured her first victory in six meetings against Julia Goerges, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes to move into the third round of the Australian Open, ending the No.12 seed's 15-match winning streak.

In five prior meetings, the Frenchwoman had won just a sole set against Goerges - back in 2011, when she bagelled the German in the first round of Dallas before falling 0-6, 6-4, 6-0. In none of their other encounters had Cornet pushed Goerges beyond a 6-4 scoreline in a set.

Alizé Cornet's full range of facial expressions were on display during her 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Julia Goerges (Getty)
"Everyone was talking to be about the stats," laughed Cornet afterwards. "I was far from being the favorite. Even myself, I've seen her playing since Moscow and I was like, whoa, she's in great form."

The key, it turned out, was to chill out about the task.

"Today I was just trying to go on court and be relaxed," Cornet informed the press. "I didn't feel any pressure, any stress. I was just feeling the moment, enjoying the crowd and everything was working together... I was probably enjoying the match as never before."

It was the 27-year-old who began the match in finer fettle. Comfortably constructing points on serve and relentlessly probing her opponent's weaknesses on return, Cornet would not face a break point in her first four service games - but would garner 10 of her own throughout the first set.

Not that she was quick to take advantage of her opportunities: she spurned the first seven, with the Goerges overhead in particular coming to the 29-year-old's rescue. But when the German sent a backhand long on the eighth to give Cornet a 4-2 lead, it was symptomatic of her struggles.

The Auckland champion's game was misfiring in many ways, racking up 21 unforced errors in the first set - including going 0-3 on dropshot attempts. Goerges found herself in something of a catch-22: her go-to weapon of the forehand was increasingly prone to mishits and other errors. Engaging in backhand-to-backhand rallies was an invitation for Cornet to control the point, though, as the World No.42's placement and control on that wing was magnificent.

The buzz of a circling helicopter proved too much of an audible intrusion for Cornet to serve the set out - but, laughing about it on the change of ends, the former World No.11 simply came out and played a brilliant return game, tangling Goerges up with booming backhands and an exquisite forehand slice before the German No.1's second double fault put the set to rest.

There was a slight shift in the match's dynamic in the second: instead of Cornet putting pressure on the Goerges delivery, it was the seeded player making inroads on return. Goerges battled her way to break point in three of the French No.3's four service games, blasting returns and making her way to net in an attempt to keep her Melbourne hopes alive.

But on each occasion, Cornet managed to send down a strong serve to seize control of the point, quelling any hint of a resurgence before it had a chance to begin.

"I tried everything I could to change up," said Goerges afterwards. "I changed the return position to put pressure on her - and I thought I got some opportunities in the second set, but she actually saved them pretty well."

Cornet said she had been aware of Goerges' tactical alterations.

"Each time she was finding solutions, I was also finding solutions," said the Frenchwoman. "It was a kind of mental fight. One of the keys was that I was serving really well, which is essential against her."

In the eighth game, it was Cornet's turn to strike. Goerges had been walking a tightrope between scorching winners and wild errors, but she was tipped off it in this game thanks to a backhand that sailed wide and a forehand into the net. Ultimately, she would rack up 41 unforced errors - with another pair coming in the final game as, in one last plot twist, Cornet was able to serve the match out comfortably to love.

Goerges, who as one of the form players coming into the tournament had been tipped by many to go far, was not unduly disappointed to see her winning streak end.

"I must be proud of what I have achieved in the last weeks and months," she told the press. "It's sad to go out of a Grand Slam early but it doesn't bring me down from working hard and keeping improving. It's going to be a great season, I'm sure."

Author: Alex MacPherson, WTA Tennis
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