Sometimes, simple facts convey the power and enormity of a great sports moment. Sometimes, the simple reality of failure enables a success to become that much more special and appreciated.
Monday in Melbourne, we had one of those moments. Alize Cornet survived oppressive heat and fought off a determined Simona Halep to win a fourth-round match, 6-4 in the third set. This was no ordinary match — not the stakes involved, not the weather conditions, not the opponent, a multi-major champion.
In a very fitting way, this anything-but-ordinary match delivered an anything-but-ordinary moment to Cornet.
This is her first major quarterfinal berth in 63 major-tournament appearances, which is more than 15 years of major-tournament tennis. She had played 60 consecutive majors.
The simple fact of that achievement conveys the full measure of its enormity.
I’m going to shut up and allow the facts to tell this story below. Enjoy:
(1) Mert Ertunga on Twitter: “Her first quarterfinal at a Major. Let’s see how far she gets. Who knows… she may have published her autobiography too soon, with the final chapter missing ✔ https://t.co/zswpHQKuf4” / Twitter
(2) Victoria Chiesa on Twitter: “Cornet recounting how much she wanted to play Dokic in the QFs in 2009, where she lost to Safina from MP up in R4: “I wanted to play against you so bad and I was so disappointed … Now, 13 years later, I’m still here, you’re still here, on the court.”” / Twitter
(2) WTA Insider on Twitter: “Alize Cornet advances to her 1st Slam QF in her 63rd appearance, a new record. She has defeated 2 in-form former No.1s (Muguruza, Halep) and a reigning RG semifinalist (Zidansek from a a set and 1-4 down) to do it, all in what may be her final season. Chapeau. #AusOpen https://t.co/8QjfGsec8G” / Twitter
(2) Reem Abulleil on Twitter: “When I spoke to Cornet the day she said this might be her last season, I told her Stosur said she found freedom in her shots once she decided this would be her last season. “Lucky her. Maybe it’s cuz I’m not sure about my decision. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find this rhythm yet”” / Twitter
Whether Alize Cornet does retire after this season or not, it’s fascinating to see a player perform in a liberated way near the end of her career. A little extra freedom, a little less pressure, enabled Alize Cornet to fly freely, all the way to a major quarterfinal she has been pursuing since the mid-2000s.
That’s a feel-good movie if I ever saw one.