Cornet wins all-French battle against Garcia in Charleston

No.14 seed Alize Cornet came back from a set down to knock out the Volvo Car Open top seed Caroline Garcia in the third round.
Garcia retired at one set apiece during the pair's most recent meeting at Brisbane in January, but before that had claimed three victories in a row over her countrywoman. In Charleston, Cornet needed to mount a major comeback - even turning around a 0-4 deficit in the first set - but she eventually prevailed after two hours and 16 minutes, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
“I’m happy I’m back in the quarterfinals here after my 2008 run to the semis,” Cornet said after the match. “I have some great memories from this tournament, and I’m having an amazing week. I want the journey to keep going as much as possible.”
Cornet posted positive numbers, with 20 winners and two aces against 17 unforced errors. She kept Garcia under pressure, creating 16 break opportunities and converting on six. For her part, Garcia stayed on the attack with 27 winners, but was undone by her 49 unforced errors - the majority of those coming in the lopsided second set.
“I think I was playing very passive in the beginning of the match,” Cornet explained. “Caroline was serving very well and dictating in a lot of the points. I was pushed behind the baseline. I tried to recover the baseline and be more aggressive. I was hitting the ball stronger and stronger during the match. I’m really proud, I did it until the end.”
After winning back-to-back matches for the first time since January, Cornet is through to the quarterfinals in Charleston where she’ll face No.12 seed Kiki Bertens.
“It’s not easy to play against a friend, so I’ll have to stay focused like I did today against Caroline. [Kiki] has a big first serve, big forehand, and she plays much better on clay than on hardcourts. I think she’s much more comfortable on this surface.”
No.5 seed Julia Goerges has powered her way into her second Volvo Car Open quarterfinal, reeling No.10 seed Naomi Osaka in 7-6(4), 6-3 after twice coming from a break down in the first set.
The 29-year-old was coming off a second-round loss in Miami to Carina Witthoeft and had struggled through her opener here, barely squeezing past Kristie Ahn 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1) - but afterwards, she said that these experiences have helped her more than straightforward wins might have done. "I think sometimes you learn more out of losses than on wins," she stated. "Especially if I compare it to yesterday's match where I was almost out of the tournament and I still found a way, I think those
matches help you more than you win 6-2, 6-2 and just go off the court.
"So I think losses can be very helpful, too. They can be painful, but they help you
probably more than easy wins or if it looks easy or if you just win a title."
The last time the German, who broke the Top 10 for the first time in February, had made the last eight in Charleston was in 2011, when she defeated Shahar Peer before losing to eventual runner-up Elena Vesnina. Today's result means that Osaka has to wait to make her own Tour-level clay quarterfinal debut.
The freshly crowned Indian Wells champion started confidently, hitting her spots with her serve and coming through two multi-deuce games to carve out a 3-0 lead. Targeting the Goerges backhand relentlessly, the 20-year-old judiciously deployed a wrongfooting strategy to close out points, and sealed the first break of the match on her third break point with a scorching drive volley. When the German limped to her chair clutching her leg in the fifth game, there was little doubt as to which player was in control.
But the dynamic of the match gradually changed as Goerges began to find her rhythm on serve. A straightforward hold for 2-4 was followed by some of the 29-year-old's best tennis to break back on her fourth break point, blending powerful returns with clever, delicate slices. 
"I needed a little bit of time to get my feet on the ground and especially to get used to the pace as well, and today it was a bit cooler," explained Goerges afterwards. "I was just very happy that I created some opportunities in her service game to really... get my feet going, but also changing up the game a little bit with a lot of variety."
Though Osaka would regain her advantage, hammering a sequence of huge forehands to progress to the brink of the set at 5-3, her game had begun to leak far more errors than initially. A shanked smash gave Goerges an opportunity to stay in the set - and the Auckland champion seized it with a forehand down the line.
The Japanese player had come into this match with a perfect, three-for-three tiebreak record in 2018 - but in the ensuing first-set decider, her errors continued to pile up, particularly on the backhand side. Goerges, meanwhile, was beginning to peak on serve. Having held for 6-6 with an impeccable game of one ace and three service winners, she would ultimately seal the set with her fourth ace of the day.
The World No.13's form continued into the second set as she made a lightning start, capturing the first eight points to capture an immediate break lead. But leading 2-0, it was her turn to be beset by wild errors, with her favoured forehand wing veering off the rails to allow Osaka back into the match. Demonstrating the increased variety in her game that had been key to capturing the BNP Paribas Open title, Osaka took her chance with a delightful, feathery dropshot.
"I was thinking that I shouldn't give up and that no matter what, I should try to at least make it competitive," explained Osaka afterwards. Overall, though, the 20-year-old was unhappy with her form in Charleston.
"I was able to win two matches - but I feel like that doesn't really say I can play well on clay," she told the press. "It's more, I think, I'm just an okay player that was able to play okay."
But Goerges quickly resumed her dominance on serve. Over the course of the match, she would win 71% of her first serve points and send down eight aces - one of which got her out of trouble down break point in the seventh game. Osaka's form, meanwhile, was increasingly intermittent. Having struck 16 winners of the first set, she would manage only four in the second - while her unforced error tally would rise to 34.
Goerges pounced again in the eighth game - not with power but with touch, as consecutive dropshots brought up two break points. A backhand pass sealed the break, and the Zhuhai Elite Trophy champion would serve the match out comfortably to set up a quarterfinal against No.3 seed Daria Kasatkina - whom she lavished with praise afterwards.
"I think when we met each other first she was 17 or 18," recalled Goerges. "We played each other in Bucharest and then Bad Gastein [in 2015], and when I
played her there after the match, I was pretty sure she's going to be Top 20 for sure. That's what I told her at the net."
Goerges' appreciation of her next opponent is not just as a player but as a person. "I just like the way she's presenting herself, the way she is as a human being," she elaborated. "We know that this tennis life probably also has some tough parts. And it's not a goal to like everyone, but I think it's nice if you can deal with everyone.
"I think she's one of the best friends I would call on tour for me because she's a very open-minded girl. She's very happy the way things are going for her - but not [just] on the tennis side as well, the way she lives her life."
 No.3 seed Daria Kasatkina extended both her winning streak at the Volvo Car Open and her dominance over No.13 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, defeating the Romanian 6-2, 6-1 for the sixth time in seven meetings to notch up her eighth straight victory in Charleston.
The one-hour, three-minute triumph was a reprise of last year's quarterfinal match between the erstwhile doubles partners, which Kasatkina took 6-4, 6-1 before going on to lift her maiden WTA trophy.
Having struggled to quell Christina McHale over three sets in the previous round, the World No.12, embarking on the brand new experience of defending a title, explained the pressure she felt.
"It's really awkward to turn your head everywhere and your face is around," Kasatkina said of the tournament posters featuring her. "It's very nice, but at the same time it puts a little bit of pressure on you because everybody is asking you if I saw this big picture on the stadium. Like, I think everybody saw it in the city."
Admitting to feeling "stressed" in her previous round, Kasatkina stated that her mental state had improved somewhat. "Today was much better than two days ago," she smiled. "I think I was almost flying, and I'm really happy about it because I was really stretched the first match, but I hope this pressure disappears."
The Russian has been in fine form in 2018, with back-to-back finals in Dubai and Indian Wells taking her to the brink of the Top 10, and her all-court mastery was on full display in a 37-minute opening set. Scampering to every corner of the court, Kasatkina was implacable on defence, conjuring up several remarkable gets and pinpoint lobs. Begu valiantly persisted with her aggressive plays, but all too frequently was unable to finish them off, committing 26 unforced errors over the course of the match.
The defending champion wasn't just limited to retrieval, though. Varying her tactics and working the angles, Kasatkina was capable of switching her play up by going for big returns and swarming the net - with her reflex volley followed by exquisite touch putaway in the fifth game a particular highlight.
She was aided, too, by her opponent's struggles on serve. Begu, who would win just 29% of her second serve points over the course of the match, was unfortunately prone to bouts of ill-timed double faults: one on the first break point she faced, two more to get broken to love again in the fourth game.
Though the Romanian managed to briefly assert herself on the match at the start of the second set, nailing winners on the return and the drive volley to break Kasatkina to love, it was to be a final hurrah. 
The Indian Wells runner-up went from strength to strength as the match progressed: the second set found her wheeling out her trademark crowd-pleasing jumping backhand on several occasions and reducing her unforced error count to a meagre three over the entire set. 
Changing the direction of the ball seemingly at will, Kasatkina reeled off the final six games of the match, breaking Begu three more times, without facing another game point - and appropriately enough, she would seal a place in her fourth quarterfinal of 2018 with another canny dropshot.
In the last eight, the 20-year-old will face a familiar foe in No.5 seed Julia Goerges, to whom she has lost three of their five encounters - including straight-sets losses in their last two matches, both on Kasatkina's home soil in Moscow.
The German had praised her young rival both as a player and a person after her match, and Kasatkina repaid the compliments. "I [lost] the match," she recalled of their first encounter in Bucharest in 2015. "But during our handshake she told me a few very kind and inspired words. So... after this I was really surprised because she was so kind to me, and she's one of the first players I get in touch with, and we are still really good."
Not that Kasatkina expects Goerges' friendliness to extend to her play. "I don't think she will just give me the match because we are friends," she laughed. "She's a really tough opponent because she's very aggressive, she's serving well. She has
very aggressive forehand, very solid backhand. So to beat her for sure I have to show something special and to play not like go on court just to play."