PARIS — Alize Cornet reached the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time yesterday, hoping to lead a wave of Les Blues into the last 16 at their home tournament.
The French number one, the latest to feel the weight of home expectation after a 15-year gap since Mary Pierce claimed the title, beat Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6 6-3 7-5.
When Lucic-Baroni fired a return of service long on match point, 29th seed Cornet collapsed joyfully onto to her back as if celebrating the title itself.
She only has Kristina Mladenovic to share the burden in the women’s draw, but the French men are advancing en masse in a bid to reclaim La Coupe des Mousquetaires.
It has been in foreign hands since Yannick Noah’s 1983 title, but seven Frenchmen have reached the third round this year, only one short of the professional era record, and most of them were in action yesterday, day six of the tournament.
Richard Gasquet completed that group when he returned to court to finish off Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq after their second round match was tied at two sets all overnight.
Gasquet won the fifth set 6-1 in 32 minutes.
“It’s very good for French tennis,” Gasquet, the 20th seed whose best performance here is the fourth round, said. “It’s a good pressure. Of course it’s difficult because everybody is expecting a lot from us and we are putting a lot of pressure ourselves on our shoulders.”
At least one Frenchman is guaranteed a spot in round four with 12th seed Gilles Simon playing compatriot Nicolas Mahut.
Former champion Ana Ivanovic wasted little time reaching the last 16, hitting top form after two three-setters to thrash Croatian teenager Donna Vekic 6-0 6-3.
The Serb has not been beyond the fourth round since she won the title in 2008 and will have to beat ninth seed Ekaterina Makarova if she is to improve on that record. — Reuters