Its five years since Alize Cornet has had the white sand of Cottesloe Beach between her toes but sunning herself seaside is top of the French No.1’s to-do list on her return to Perth. There’s also the small matter of hitting a few tennis balls for her country in between.
According to the HopmanCup.com, the glamorous 23-year-old is making her second Hopman Cup appearance, this time alongside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and spent more than an hour surrounded by leading Perth designers helping her choose an ensemble ahead of the annual New Year’s Eve ball.
Quick to laugh at word of Tsonga refusing to get his feet wet on the beach last year, Cornet made it clear that while she had an affinity for Perth’s iconic shoreline; it was more for the sand and the sun than the Indian Ocean.
“No… No, I don’t put one foot in the water,” she laughed. “I am aware of the shark and I know there is some of them here looking for some people to, I don’t know, eat so I’m looking to go there to tan, lay there on the sand.
No foot in the water this time. “I’m really looking forward to going back to the beaches because I remember five years ago with Gilles (Simon) I went there and I really loved it. Everything there, it was so relaxed and so beautiful so I think during my day off I will go there again and just enjoy this beautiful part of Perth.” Is it possible the French players share a common phobia of the monsters of the deep? “Yes, we have a very good taste.
We ate a lot of very good food but I think the shark will appreciate us so I don’t want to try,” she laughed. Cornet comes off her second best season to date, where she won her third career title, at Strasbourg, and finished the year ranked 27th.
A run to the fourth round of the 2009 Australian Open would put her well on track to achieving a return to the top 20. “(It) was a great year again for me, I beat some top 20 players, I won a tournament, I went back in the top 30… so I hope to make the top 20 in the next month,” she said.
“Of course the big goal is the Australian Open… but then I have as well here and Sydney. We want to win this tournament with Jo.” The Hopman Cup marks the first time Cornet has played mixed doubles with the athletic world No.10, Tsonga.
And while she admits the pair doesn’t actually know each other overly well, that is not about to stop her dishing out advice when they combine on court. “It’s the only French player I don’t know so well so yesterday we had dinner together, try to get to know each other better and he’s a really nice guy.
I think we’re going to have fun together when we play doubles,” she said. And her No.1 tip over dinner? “Just that he has to listen to me; no I’m kidding,” she laughed. “I know he doesn’t dare to hit the girl at the net he tells me that he’s scared to hurt the girl and I said ‘You know, if you want to win, at one point you have to be aggressive and hit the girl if you have to’ and he tell me, ‘No, no, I cannot do that, you will have to force me’.” The pair will be among the first players to take the court in 2014 when they square off against the United States on New Year’s Day.
If Tsonga wants to keep his teammate on side ahead of the clash he would do well to remember to compliment his countrywoman on her Hopman Cup Ball attire. “I tell Jo not to make fun of me when I appear on the red carpet. We’ll see how he looks himself,” Cornet said. (Hopman Cup)