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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, June 18, 2021

 
Alize Cornet

Alize Cornet saved a match point fighting off Garbiñe Muguruza 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) to set up a Berlin semifinal vs. Belinda Bencic, who also won a third-set tie breaker.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

The tie breaker was a thrill ride for Alize Cornet—and heartbreaker for Garbiñe Muguruza.

Cornet saved a match point to force a tie breaker then fended off a fierce fight back from Muguruza squeezing into the Berlin semifinals with a pulsating 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) triumph.

More: Kyrgios' Dig at Djokovic

Cornet converted her fifth match point in the breaker when Muguruza, in control of a frenetic rally, opted for the backhand drop shot and tapped it into the tape closing a two hour, 40-minute triumph of high-quality grass tenniss.

It's Cornet's 24th career WTA semifinal and her first final four appearance on grass.




It was Cornet's second straight win over a Grand Slam champion following her 7-6(2), 7-5 win over 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

World No. 63 Cornet improved to 11-12 on the season and will try to sustain her run in Saturday's semifinals against Belinda Bencic.

In the day's first quarterfinal, Bencic beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4).

The fifth-seeded Swiss scored her 35th career grass-court win as she plays for a fourth final on grass.

Bencic withstood 15 aces from Alexandrova and converted four of five break-point chances.

The 2015 Eastbourne champion, Bencic has won two of three meetings vs. Cornet with their last two encounters going the three-set distance.

Muguruza had match point in her hands and the quarterfinals on her racquet when she set up for her forehand down the line. But with an expanse of lawn ahead, the Spaniard flattened that shot into the middle of the net giving Cornet a reprieve and new life.



The Frenchwoman, who beat Serena Williams on grass at the 2014 Wimbledon, was sharp in the early stages of the tie breaker.

Cornet cracked a crosscourt backhand winner for a 3-0 lead and extended to 4-0 when Muguruza netted a forehand.

Tension spiked and a net-cord shot from the Spaniard slid back on her own side giving Cornet a 6-1 lead and fistful of match points.

Tennis Express

An assertive Muguruza fought off the first two match points and saved the third match point racing up to a drop shot and poking a clever one-handed backhand pass. On the fourth match point, Muguruza banged a backhand winner crosscourt that left a lunging Cornet sprawling across the lawn and her Babolat racquet bouncing off the grass.

A seemingly shaken Cornet took a bit of time collecting herself and rising to the grass, which elevated the pressure on Muguruza, who was standing with ball in hand trying to fight off a fifth match point. 

On the strength of some heavy strikes, Muguruza was in control of rally when she made the unfortunate shot selection choice opting for the drop shot and dipping the dropper into net to end a gripping battle.



 

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