Alize Cornet stood midcourt on Margaret Court Arena waving to the singing fans and patting her heart after an Australian Open third-round win on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
While the experienced French player was touched to be serenaded on her 32nd birthday, she much preferred her own gift – the shot at a Grand Slam quarterfinal in what could be her last year on the tour.
Cornet had a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 comeback win over 29th-seeded Tamara Zidansek in 2 hours, 43 minutes on the hottest day of the tournament so far at Melbourne Park.
She has reached the fourth round in Australia for the first time 13 years, and she recalled how she had a match point before losing to eventual finalist Dinara Safina of Russia the previous time back in 2009.
"I think that's why we all keep playing and keep pushing ourselves because we're so addicted to these feelings, this joy right after the match point," Cornet said.
"It's really amazing. To start the year this way definitely makes me want to play some more tennis." The No. 61-ranked Cornet will next play two-time major winner Simona Halep. She's not looking beyond that, yet.
"I don't want to think about this quarterfinal because I have the feeling it's getting a little like an obsession," she said.
"I'm enjoying my run here so far. I had a really great time on the court again with the crowd supporting me. I want to fill my heart with all this energy without thinking I might finally get my quarterfinal that I've been looking for for the past 15 years."