New Delhi: Popular in the tennis circuit after taming Serena Williams thrice this year, Frenchwoman Alize Cornet says the key to conquering the world number one lies in countering her man-like serves with exhausting rallies.
Serena, winner of 18 singles Grand Slam titles, lost only nine matches in the 2014 season and three of those defeats have come against Cornet, who is world number 19.
The contest between the two players at Wuhan could not be completed as Serena retired mid-way but Cornet pulled off terrific wins in Dubai and Wimbledon.
"It was amazing beating her three times this year. But the win at the Wimbledon Centre Court was more special. She's on top of the women's tennis. She's playing amazing, so definitely it was the biggest win of my career," Cornet, who is playing for the Mumbai team in CTL, told PTI in an interview.
So what does it take to beat a player of the caliber of Serena and how exactly did she plan the fall of the super rival?
"I was taking more on the first shot because Serena is very good on the first shot, like serves, returns. I was trying to make the rallies last a little bit longer and at the same time when I had a chance, I tried to be aggressive.
"I was trying to make her run. Everyone knows it's (running) not her best quality. She is running well but she is more dangerous when she is controlling the game. So I was trying to play very deep and move her when I can. Only defence can't work, so I mixed it up.
"I was just trying to move good and try to put back as many balls as possible. I was trying to return well because she serves like a man, so that when the point was on, it was less difficult for me. I just tried to get right tactics with my coach and it worked," she explained her strategy.
The 24-year-old said those wins over Serena made her believe that she "can beat any player in the world."
"Beating her on grass in a very tight match was really good, very emotional. I hope I can do it again and beat many top-10 players like that."
Cornet said she was playing her trade in the tour for almost a decade but never ever she was this famous as now.
"In Wimbledon it was very big thing. All the people who did not know me before, got to know me. Even though I am on tour for seven years and was world number 11 but that victory at Wimbledon was exposed in every media. Then people in London started recognising me and I said wow!, it's just one victory, it's crazy'. It definitely helped my popularity in media."
And she candidly admitted that she liked being in limelight. "We like to be recognised as good tennis players. We like to be in media and in newspapers."
While Cornet beat Serena thrice she lost both her outings against Maria Sharapova. But the French girl said the American was a more complete player.
"Two times I played pretty bad against Maria. They have totally different games. They are quite powerful, big champions. They are very aggressive, you are under pressure on every shot. That's their common point. Serena is a bit more complete player. She can run better, serves better, better net game and that makes a difference," she said.
Cornet also revealed she never liked playing on the fast courts but gradually developed her game for hard courts, realising that she can't survive on the Tour if she's comfortable only on the red-dirt.
"It's very weird. I was a very good clay court player when I was young. All my titles were on clay and now that Tour is maybe 75-80 percent on the hard courts, you have to be very efficient on these surfaces. So I changed my grip in forehand to be better and finally I found myself playing very well on grass court.
"It's just about feeling the court, how you move and then it's easier. Before that, I could not feel it. I did not know how to run, how to play."
Asked if she hoped to be in top-5 in the 2015 season, Cornet came across as a very realistic person.
"Top-five is too far to see from now. I would like to get my best ranking again, it's 11. If I do better then I would be top-10. This is the goal," she signed off.