Cornet looking ahead to 'exciting' season after Australian Open run

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Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 26, 2022 France's Alize Cornet reacts during her quarter final match against Danielle Collins of the U.S. REUTERS/Morgan Sette

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MELBOURNE, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Surprise Australian Open quarter-finalist Alize Cornet said she was still learning the game at the age of 32 and her sparkling run at the year's first Grand Slam had filled her with fresh hope for the season.

The unseeded Frenchwoman punched above her weight in this year's tournament to reach the last eight of a major for the first time on her 63rd attempt, before losing 7-5 6-1 to American Danielle Collins on Wednesday. read more

"The first thought that comes to my mind right now is that I have eternal respect for the Grand Slam winner because it's such a long way," Cornet told reporters. "My God, I have the feeling I'm playing this tournament for a year.

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"I'm so exhausted mentally, physically. When you go all the way and win these seven matches, it's just huge. I respected the Grand Slam winner before, but now even more because I only did half of the way, a little bit more than half.

"It seemed to me like, 'oh my God, you need to be so strong on every aspect to go to the end'. That was a great experience for me to learn that. Even though I'm 32, I'm still learning, apparently."

Cornet, who is 61st in the rankings, had suggested after beating Garbine Muguruza in the second round that 2022 could be her final year on the WTA Tour.

But she said on Wednesday that the last two weeks, during which she beat two-times Grand Slam champion Simona Halep in the previous round, had changed her outlook.

"It showed me... that I'm maybe tougher than what I thought, I can beat many good players in a row even in a slam," she said.

"I should keep believing and keep working. Maybe an exciting season is ahead of me. That's what I'm telling myself."

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Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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