April 14, 2024

Open Court

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“La bise de la réconciliation” for feuding Frenchwomen

ROLAND GARROS – In the end, despite the well-documented off-court drama, it was about tennis for Frenchwomen Alizé Cornet and Caroline Garcia.

At stake on Monday was a spot in the singles quarter-finals of their home Grand Slam. And it was Garcia, the recipient of so much criticism amid the public airing of some internal French Fed Cup dirty laundry, who had the last laugh.

Garcia defeated Cornet 6-2, 6-4 to reach her first career quarterfinal. It was also the first time Garcia had ever won a match on the main stadium court, Court Philippe-Chatrier. 

That, combined with an extra-time, third-round win over Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei that very easily could have gone the other way, may have have exorcised a few Roland Garros demons for the talented 23-year-old.

Just here for the handshake

If you were just there for the handshake, it far exceeded expectations. And that’s probably in part due to the graciousness of the loser, Cornet.

The bookmakers had 300-1 odds against the two exchanging kisses. And yet, it happened.

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“I don’t know, I’m not the one to ask about how we got there, I don’t know. But it’s the truth!” Garcia said, laughing. “I’ll admit, it wasn’t really thought out. I was just so happy and everything. I shook her hand and after, I think I we kissed on the cheek. But it was natural.”

“I’m sure that everyone looked at this match to see how was it going to happen.Frenchwomen Everyone was surprised, maybe it’s going to be a battle or whatever. But, I mean, I just tried to stay like a professional player. I play tennis because I enjoy it, and I don’t want to get any fight with anyone. What happen, happened. We never forget about it. Tennis is a game. I play to enjoy and that’s it,” Garcia added.

Cornet’s first reaction was that it was the coldest exchange of kisses she’d ever had. “But it was a kiss,” she laughed. “It’s a good point already, and I was actually also surprised. I was not expecting that she wanted to give me a kiss. And I liked it. I mean, it was good to finish on this note, you know, like I wouldn’t have liked like just a handshake, like very cold.

“I’m not this kind of person. I’m a very nice person. I don’t like the conflict. So I told her good luck, and I mean it,” she added.

Next-day reflections

On French television Tuesday, Cornet said she hoped all the drama was behind them.

“I said, ‘Bravo, Caro. and good luck.’ And gave her a bit of a shove in the shoulder. Let’s hope that said it all. I hope we move on, because there are worse things in life,” Cornet said. “Obviously I wish it were me (winning), but I’m sincerely happy for her. And I hope we can stop talking about it. It’s getting heavy, and people hear the about the controversy. It’s really not worth it.”

Asked about the cheek kisses, Cornet smiled and agreed. “La bise de la reconciliation!”

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Solid French women’s content

It was the deepest into the French Open that two Frenchwomen had met in several decades.

And it also was the first time Cornet and Garcia had met at the WTA/Slam level. They have only played once, in 2010 at the Marseille ITF tournament (that actually is going on this week), when Garcia was 16 and Cornet, 20.

Garcia resolved before the French to keep her distance from the opinions of others – at least, as much as she could. “I say it, and I’ll repeat it, having people around you who support you, who cheer you, that’s great. But sometimes, people have bad intentions and when you’re a little fragile, it can really hurt,” she said.

Meanwhile, another Frenchwoman has her shot at making the semifinals Tuesday, as No. 13 seed Kristina Mladenovic takes on No. 30 seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland.

Mladenovic’s doubles run with Svetlana Kuznetsova ended Monday with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to the No. 1 seeds, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova. She has spent more than nine hours on court in singles, plus the doubles, while Bacsinszky is significantly fresher.

So all the focus is on singles. But Mladenovic’s quest to do Garcia one better and make the semifinals is a challenging one against Bacsinszky, who was a semi-finalist here two years ago. 

Garcia will take on No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic Wednesday, in her bid to do the same.

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