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ANTWERP, Belgium - No.7 seed Alizé Cornet survived a late wobble to defeat WTA Rising Star Belinda Bencic in the first round of the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games on Tuesday.
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After recovering from a disastrous opening set, in which she won just nine points, Cornet appeared to be coasting towards victory when she took an equally one-sided second and then moved 3-1 ahead in the decider. However, with both players struggling to hold onto their serve, a nervous finale was always on the cards.
And so it proved, Bencic hanging doggedly onto Cornet's coattails. The Frenchwoman eventually got across the line, ending a run of four straight breaks to close out a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 win.
"I have long matches quite often, I have to say," Cornet said. "Today, it was one more fight for me and I'm happy I got through finally. The end of the third set was really tight - there was only two or three points in it - and I was fighting for every point."
Cornet was part of the French Fed Cup team that upset Italy in Genoa last weekend, and the transition from clay to hard was not a seamless one. "In one week you get used to the clay and then you only have a few days to get used to the hard again. Even though the court is pretty slow here, in the beginning of the match, I was completely lost on the court, but I used the weapons I had and in the end it was enough."
Singles (Rank:69) (High:51)
Titles(4): 2013-50k Limoges | 2014-50k Burnie,4R-Roland Garros,100k Contrexeville | 2015-25k Irapuato,R4-Roland Garros,F-WTA 125 Taipei | 2016-SF-Auckland,QF-Charleston,SF-Rabat
Doubles (Rank:2) (High:1)
Titles(10): 2013-25k Koksijde,25k Westende | 2014-Auckland,50k Osprey,'s-Hertogenbosch,100k Contrexeville | 2015-25k Irapuato,Beijing | 2016-SF-Australian Open,F-Charleston,F-Rome,SF-Roland Garros,50k Essen,Wimbledon