A trifecta of 2014 victories over Serena Williams still bring a smile to Alize Cornet‘s face.
But the unseeded Frenchwoman will hope to keep a more personal memory alive in Saturday’s Brisbane International women’s final against third-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova on Treasury Brisbane Day.
World No.41 Cornet is best known for defeating Williams three straight times in 2014 – at Dubai and Wimbledon before the American retired during their clash in Wuhan, China.
She became the first player to defeat the then world No.1 Williams in three straight meetings since Belgian Justine Henin in 2007.
The former world No.11 said that string of wins still gave her confidence.
But Cornet said her thoughts in Brisbane’s final would instead turn to French tennis team physiotherapist Patrick Bordier who sadly collapsed and died at the Rio Olympics.
Triple Olympian Cornet signed off from Friday’s semifinal win against fourth seed Garbine Muguruza using his mantra “viva la vie”, loosely translated as enjoy life.
The 26-year-old wrote the saying along with her autograph for TV cameras following world No.7’s Muguruza shock retirement after five games with a thigh complaint.
Bordier had worked with the French tennis team since 2014.
“Viva la vie. It means enjoy life or something like that, it’s a dedication,” Rio Olympian Cornet said.
“He (Bordier) was always saying this sentence, just to put the smile on our faces. He’d be like ‘OK viva la vie, enjoy. You have a beautiful life, you’re young, just enjoy’.
“I think of him sometimes on the court. I’m like ‘I’m so lucky to do what I like and to be on this court playing in front of these people’.
“It helps a lot in the bad moments and I owe him this.”
Not that Cornet had forgotten her remarkable 2014 run against Williams.
“It meant a lot. At the time, she was almost unbeatable,” Cornet said. “I was one of the only players that beat her and it showed me that I had guts and that I had some talent … to actually beat these players.
“So I still keep it in my mind sometimes, but I have to move forward of course – three years ago is a long time.”
Cornet will play Pliskova in the Brisbane final after the world No.6 thrashed sixth seed Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine 6-2 6-4 in just over an hour at Pat Rafter Arena on Friday night.