28 May 2024

Alize Cornet ends tennis career with emotional first-round loss at French Open

28 May 2024

Roland Garros had to wave a third emotional farewell in three days after Alize Cornet lost her first-round match at the French Open.

Sales of tissues must have rocketed in Paris following the departure of former finalist Andy Murray on Sunday, and then 14-time champion Rafael Nadal’s tear-jerking goodbye 24 hours later.

Popular Frenchwoman Cornet announced last month that she would be retiring after this year’s home tournament.

The 34-year-old former world number 11, who twice made the fourth round, was granted a wild card and a spot on Court Philippe Chatrier for what she described as “the last dance”.

She bowed out of her 20th Roland Garros, and her 72nd appearance at a grand slam, with a 6-2 6-1 loss to seventh seed Qinwen Zheng of China.

Cornet, who played her first French Open aged 15, said: “It’s been a difficult day with a lot of emotion. It’s a 20-year page that I’m turning and I’m going to a new chapter in my life.

“I wish I could have played better, but I gave everything I could to this sport.”

Former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina won 10 games in a row and yet was still an unconvincing winner against unseeded Belgian Greet Minnen.

An uneven match saw the 24-year-old from Kazakhstan turn a 2-0 deficit in the first set into a commanding 6-2 4-0 lead.

Fourth seed Rybakina then dropped serve twice as Minnen threatened a comeback, but regained her composure to wrap up a 6-2 6-3 victory.

She cut a surly figure with journalists afterwards, responding with answers including “the questions are quite the same, so I don’t know what to say anymore” and “simple question, simple answers. So, guys, something else?”

I enjoy playing here and I'm just trying to bring my best tennis every time

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka was far more chipper after making short work of Russia’s Erika Andreeva 6-1 6-2.

“I’m trying to do well on clay. It is tough conditions here but I enjoy playing here and I’m just trying to bring my best tennis every time,” she said.

Ominously for the rest of the women’s draw, the top four seeds dropped just 13 games between them in the first round.

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