Clara Burel: L’Ardeur De La Jeunesse À Lyon

Clara Burel (photo: Alexandre Hergott/Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon)

LYON/WASHINGTON, March 4, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

France’s Clara Burel may only be 19 years old, but she’s wise beyond her years. After receiving a wild card and winning a couple of rounds during last year’s Roland Garros, Burel is gaining confidence that she can hold her own against WTA tour-level competition.

On Wednesday afternoon in Lyon, France, at the Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon, the 218th-ranked Burel stunned fifth-seeded Alizé Cornet, the 31-year-old grande dame of French women’s tennis, winning 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in just over two hours to reach the second round. The Rennes native, who turns 20 on March 24, took advantage of Cornet’s 11 double faults, saved 10 of 14 break points she faced while breaking her opponent six times in 15 opportunities — including three straight times — to easily win the opening set.

After dropping the middle set by a mirror image of the first, the right-handed Burel with a two-fisted backhand rallied in the final set against the 59th-ranked Cornet. She jumped ahead by a double break at 4-0, and at last closed out the victory on her third match-point try, which ended a lengthy 14-point final game.

“I think I was a bit more aggressive playing the points; my serve was a bit more better,” said Burel, when asked by Tennis TourTalk to pinpoint the keys to her victory. “I tried to forget the negatives of the second set and focus on the positives that I did in the first set.”

The victory was the former junior World No. 1 Burel’s eighth in all competitions this season in 11 outings and the win over Cornet represented the highest-ranked tour-level opponent she’s beaten. She began 2021 winning three qualifying matches in Dubai to earn a trip to Melbourne. However, once there, she lost in the first round of both the tune-up Yarra Valley Classic and the Australian Open. Against Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in this year’s first major, Burel was a set ahead before losing a tough three-setter. Then, she returned home where she recently was a finalist at Poitiers, France, an ITF W25 event. Despite her success on hard courts, she admitted in a virtual interview with Tennis TourTalk that she didn’t mind playing on them but “I enjoy a bit more playing on clay.”

After Burel’s victory over Cornet, which advanced her to a second-round meeting against 96th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus Thursday afternoon, her game seems headed in the right direction.

“I am starting to gain more confidence playing on the WTA tour. I think I can win some matches and beat some good players,” Burel said, choosing her words and thoughts carefully. “Now, I wish we could have some fans.”

Tauson reaches first tour-level quarterfinal

Meanwhile, Clara Tauson, 18, who earlier this week took out tournament favorite, No. 1 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, reached her first WTA tour-level quarterfinal with a 6-2, 6-3 triumph over No. 105 Timea Babos of Hungary in 68 minutes, sealed with her second ace of the match.

“I definitely didn’t expect to win today, but I felt that from the other day, when I played really well, that I would have a chance to win,” said Tauson, who said she played free of any pressure. “So, I’m very happy about being in my first quarterfinal. I felt like I played a solid match.”

The 139th-ranked Tauson, whose easy power on both wings has served her well in Lyon, is definitely headed in the right direction, with two qualifying draw wins and two more in the main draw.

With a bit of laughter in her voice as she met with reporters virtually following her latest win, Tennis Tour Talk asked the amiable teenager, what kind of reaction she’s received from her family and friends following her breakout week in Lyon. She replied: “My mom is actually here at the hotel. A lot of people have texted me and wished me congratulations about the match the other day. I don’t want to message too many people when I’m playing the tournament. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the WTA or the ITF.

“I definitely see the messages and I’m going to respond to everyone of them when I’m out of the tournament. I try to keep my circle as small as possible when I’m in the tournament. When I’m finished, I’ll talk to all of my friends. Definitely, people have messaged me some really nice things. My dad was very surprised at home!”

On Friday, Tauson will face Italy’s No. 81 Camila Giorgi, who overcame 17 doubles faults in pulling out a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5) win over No. 95 Nina Stojanovic of Serbia. In the final set Giorgi went from trailing 0-2 to leading 5-3, then saved two match points while serving down 5-6 before finally prevailing in a third-set tie break.

Elsewhere in Lyon: No. 2 seed Fiona Ferro of France, ranked 46th, advanced to the quarterfinals after her opponent, Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic retired due to a lower back injury. Ferro was ahead 6-2, 4-1, when the 129th-ranked Martincova was unable to continue. Ferro awaits the Burel-Sasnovich winner in her first quarterfinal appearance since Palermo on clay last August.

Also, No. 129 Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland advanced to play No. 3 seed Caroline Garcia of France, ranked 47th, after defeating No. 280 Vera Lapko of Belarus, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

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