Alize Cornet was clearly disappointed with her defeat to Venus Williams in the Dubai final last night but the Frenchwoman is also confident she can be considered part of the group that are the future of women’s tennis.
The 24-year-old, who as a teenager peaked at No11 in the world before slipping down the rankings, is on her way back up.
And following a week where she beat world No1 Serena Williams and reached the final of a Premier-level tournament, Cornet is feeling optimistic.
“I hope I’m still a little bit thefuture of the tennis at 24 years old. I’m not dead yet,” Cornet said with a smile.
“Now that you see that Venus is 33 and she’s still playing unbelievable, I guess I have some years coming ahead of me. I think we are definitely the future of tennis. I hope I am now that I am back to my next level, and I hope I will keep playing like this, because I really enjoy mytennis when I’m like that on court. So we will see in the years coming, but I’m confident.”
Cornet was reduced to tears during her 6-3, 6-0 loss to Venus, getting frustrated by her inability to capitalise on her early break.
She insists the scoreline is not a fair indication of how competitive the match was and felt disappointed a solid week ended that way.
“It was a great week for me. It’s always tough to finish like this, and I believed in my chances today.
“I would have loved to make it a better final with a little bit more of suspense. But I will have to take all the positives out of this week. Ithink there is a lot, so I’m still very motivated for the rest of the season.
“This score in the final, that’s bothering me a little bit, because it was still a battle and you cannot see it with the score, so it’s frustrating.”
Cornet had a huge night on Friday when she beat Serena, and she said she got goose bumps when the crowd was chanting her name.
“For sure, beating the Williams sisters in the same tournament would have been amazing, but maybe next time if I have the chance to do it,” said Cornet.
“Venus was playing faster, deeper. She was taking the ball earlier than me, and was serving better.”
It was a difficult day for both Emirati players in the qualifying draw yesterday, with Omar Behroozian and Hamad Janahi losing in the first round, but the pair can find some solace in Alize Cornet’s fine performance in the women’s tournament.
Both Behroozian and Janahi have acted as hitting partners for Cornet throughout the past week, and with the former being right-handed and the latter being a lefty, the French-woman has been getting the best of both worlds en route to the women's final.
Janahi lost 6-2, 6-1 to Dutch exworld No40 Thiemo de Bakker early yesterday, while Behroozian had a rough time against Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov, losing 6-0, 6-1 to the former world No68.
“I started well and stayed on serve until two-all but then I messed up with one double fault and got broken,” Janahi told Sport360°.
“He serves huge, so it was really difficult trying to break him back.”
The 23-year-old Emirati said he’s been enjoying hitting with Cornet during the week and was thrilled to see her make the final.
“Alize has been great and she’s enjoyed having both a lefty and a righty to hit with her,” said Janahi.
“She’s been on fire and she’s such a nice girl, always smiling and positive.”
Other qualifying action saw Sergei Bubka Jr lose to Jesse Huta Galung 6-4, 6-0. The Ukrainian, son of pole-vaulting legend Sergei Bubka, is playing his third tournament back after suffering a freak accident, falling from the third floor of a building in Paris in November 2012.
Bubka Jr may have lost his qualifying match, but he’s grateful to be back on the court.
“I’m really thankful to the tournament organisers for giving me the wildcard into the qualifying draw,” said the 27-year-old.
“Unfortunately this time didn’t go as well as I hoped, but it’s difficult to expect something great right now. It’s only my third tournament back. Just to be competing again feels great.”
Venus Williams is not looking to get back to her previous Grand Slam winning form but to reach a whole new level altogether, the American declared after defeating Alize Cornet last night to capture her biggest title in four years.
Williams gave a clinical performance to calmly dispatch the Frenchwoman 6-3, 6-0 and lift her third trophy in Dubai and first title in 16 months.
The 33-year-old American has taken her winning streak in Dubai to 15, having won the title in 2009 and 2010 and missing the tournament between 2011 and 2013.
She has become the Dubai tournament’s first ever unseeded champion and is the first wildcard to clinch the women’s title at the Aviation Club.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion hadn’t won a Premier level title since Dubai in 2010. She has been battling an auto-immune disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome but appears to be on her way back to her former level.
“I’m not looking to do anything I did in the past, because I already did that,” said Williams.
“I’m looking to improve and be a better, smarter Venus. I think obviously this week is a step. Every week for me is a step.”
Cornet, who took out the younger Williams sister, Serena, in the semi-finals the night before, was bidding to win her fourth career title and first since Strasbourg last season, but Venus proved too strong for the 24-year-old to handle.
Williams gave credit to Cornet, who despite the humbling scoreline, was fighting throughout the 91-minute encounter, and said Serena’s defeat to the Frenchwoman the day before had got her curious about facing Cornet.
“I think Serena and I have so much respect for each other that when someone else beats one of us, we think ‘wow, what did they do?’” said Venus.
“So when I came on the court today, I thought ‘wow’. I was trying to get a feel for what exactly did she do to beat Serena? Obviously I was able to see on the court today. She’s just playing so consistently and hustling and making the plays.”
Venus’ next tournament will be in Miami next month and she’s hoping she can carry the momentum from this week into the rest of the season.