Hardly the last 16 match we expected, but an intriguing one nonetheless: Serena-slayer Alizé Cornet will attempt to overcome Eugenie Bouchard and reach a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in her career. Check out the Bouchard vs Cornet Head to Head.
Many are still reeling from the Frenchwoman’s stunning upset of the world number one. Of course, Serena was far from her best in the last two sets of their third round clash: she lost her footing regularly, pushed balls back instead of demolishing them and, most bizarrely of all, forgot that she was Serena Williams. There was no sign of the ferocious will to win that has extricated her from dire situations so often in the past.
But Cornet still had to get over the finish line, and she did so with style. Sensing that Serena was unsure of herself, the 25th seed kept experimenting without compromising clean hitting. She varied her angles, threw in drop shots and worked many balls deep to the middle of the court. Usually unreliable in clutch moments, Cornet held her nerve to complete a famous victory.
Now for the big question: can she maintain that belief and composure at the start of Wimbledon’s second week? Cornet has a history of following up breakthrough moments with disappointing ones. She beat Serena in Dubai back in February, but managed only three games in her next match against Venus. She edged Agnieszka Radwanska on her way to the Katowice title in April, but failed to win back-to-back matches throughout the clay court swing.
If Cornet has epitomised unpredictability this season, Eugenie Bouchard has cemented her reputation as the Tour’s most dependable young player. Ranked 31st at the start of the year, she is now 14th after semi-final runs at the Australian and French Opens and a maiden title in Nürnberg. Rather than wilt on the biggest stages, the Canadian has shown remarkable sang-froid when the world is watching.
Cornet’s histrionics versus Bouchard’s coolness under pressure could make this fourth round encounter a classic. Their only previous match, a win for Cornet on the clay courts of Strasbourg last year, took almost three hours. Grass should favour Bouchard’s heavier hitting and penchant for taking the ball early; Cornet will have to do what did did against Serena and vary her shot selection as much as possible. Bouchard was the 2012 Junior Wimbledon champion and clearly loves the surface. Until Saturday, Cornet was immune to the turf’s charms.
This is a prime opportunity for both women and could be very close, but we’ll tip Bouchard to come through in three. She might struggle to counter the Cornet creativity early on, but she’ll assert herself in time and reach the last eight of a major for the third time in a row.