Alize Cornet vs Tamara Zidansek Australian Open: Can the Frenchwoman Build on Momentum? (Jan. 21)
Robert Prange/Getty. Pictured: Alize Cornet stretches for a forehand in her Australian Open match with Garbine Muguruza.
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Alize Cornet vs. Tamara Zidansek
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
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Alize Cornet is having an excellent tournament so far. In the first round, she comfortably beat Viktoriya Tomova 6-3, 6-3. In that match, Cornet held Tomova to 43% of her service points won and she broke Tomova’s serve six times.
However, while players will take any match wins at a major, Cornet’s second-round performance was far more impressive.
Cornet took down the number three seed Garbine Muguruza in the second round, once again winning 6-3, 6-3. And unlike the match against Tomova, the scoreline actually does a disservice to the Frenchwoman’s level during the match.
Cornet completely dominated the match. For starters, her serve was clicking, as she won 83% of her first serves and 60% of her second serves. Cornet wasn’t broken all match and didn’t even face a break point.
On the other hand, Muguruza only won 58% of her first serves and faced 12 break points over the course of the match. Cornet’s break point conversion rate was the only part of her game that left something to be desired, as she only converted three of these 12 opportunities. Cornet had at least one break point in six of Muguruza’s eight service games.
Cornet didn’t overwhelm Muguruza with pace, but she hit 17 winners compared to 16 unforced errors. Her backhand cut through the court well and she hit her spots with the forehand.
Tamara Zidansek has had a solid start to the season. She made the semifinals of the Adelaide 1 warmup event, but pulled out due to an injury to her abdomen. However, the injury has not affected her results in Melbourne.
In the first round of the Australian Open, Zidansek had to recover from a set deficit and came two points from losing in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(8) win over Arantxa Rus. It wasn’t a pretty match for Zidansek, who had 20 winners compared to 48 unforced errors. Zidansek also won only 61% of her first serves and faced 13 break points.
Yet, Zidansek, who had her breakthrough at a Major with last year’s semifinal performance at the French Open, found a way.
She willed herself to victory once again in the second round, beating Heather Watson 7-6(4), 6-4. In that match, Zidansek returned very well. The Slovenian held Watson to 57% of her first serves won and 41% of her second serves won, breaking Watson five times in 11 service games.
This time, Zidansek had a much more balanced winners/unforced errors ratio, hitting 26 winners compared to 28 unforced errors. Her forehand finally started to find its range and her backhand was steady.
This match is an interesting clash between a player with a really good forehand in Zidansek against an excellent counterpuncher whose game is clicking right now in Cornet. But both with the way Cornet’s game is playing and in terms of the dynamics of this matchup, it’s hard to see the Frenchwoman losing.
Cornet is known for her scrambling and her ability to turn points around from defensive positions, but she’s playing particularly well this week when she has stepped up in the court and hit clean, aggressive groundstrokes. This is reflected in her relatively-balanced combined total of 42 winners compared to 47 unforced errors.
I’m also not convinced that Zidansek has the rally tolerance and craftiness on a hard court to consistently construct and finish points against Cornet.
Zidansek’s backhand will be the weakest shot on the court, so Cornet will want to get Zidansek into backhand-to-backhand exchanges. With Cornet striking the backhand so well, that’s not good news for the Slovenian.
It’s also important to note that while Zidansek has the slightly higher overall Elo rating by 6.6 points, Cornet’s hard-court Elo is 106.7 points higher than Zidansek’s. Zidansek is a clay courter, so it’s no surprise that her clay-court Elo is by far the highest for either player on any surface.
Finally, while Zidansek’s 5-0 record (not counting the withdrawal) to start the season looks impressive, Rus at world number 65 was the highest ranked player she’s beaten. Though Cornet is only the world number 61, I make this point to show that Zidansek isn’t beating top players leading up to this match, despite the positive record.
In this spot, I like Cornet to prevail.
Pick: Cornet -140