The women’s final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia was played between Serbian Jelena Jankovic, world number 4, and Alize Cornet, an 18 year old French qualifier. Jankovic defended her title by winning 6-2, 6-2.
At the outset of the match, Cornet, who reached her first Tier I final, showed that she had come to play. With Jelena serving, the young French woman had double break point, but she failed to take advantage. After exchanging breaks in the next couple of games, the complexity of the match changed whereby unforced errors began to permeate Cornet’s game giving Jankovic a 5-1 advantage. With some fights still remaining, Cornet broke the Serbian as she served for the first set. But, Jankovic returned the favor in the next game to take the set.
After a running start with a break in the second set, Jankovic briefly relinquished the advantage. Yet, Cornet again gave it right back with a game peppered with errors, 1-4. With a temporary intermission in play with Jelena needing a medical timeout, the distraught French youngster asked to speak to her coach. Disappointed with her poor play and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment, Cornet burst into tears during the consultation. After this emotional release, Cornet finally held her serve for the first time in the match. Nonetheless, by that time it was too late. Jankovic was in complete control and went on to win the set.
Despite the final outcome, this was an incredible week for the French teenager who eliminated the number 3 seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova, in the third round after being down a set and a 3-0 in the second. Cornet received a gift from Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, with Serena unable to play due to a back problem. Also, Alize came back from a set down against number 6 seed, Anna Chakvetadze to prevail in the semifinals. With her success this week, Cornet’s ranking catapulted from 34 to 20. Jelena advanced to the finals when Maria Sharapova withdrew from their semifinal match due to a calf strain. In the quarterfinals, Jankovic beat Venus Williams after dominating in the second and third sets. Cornet has had great success on the clay this year with semifinal finishes at Amelia Island and Charleston. As the juniors champion at Roland Garros in 2007, Cornet is well familiar with the red dust. It appears that this year, more than ever, the French spectators will feel that they possibly have a future champion to cheer.