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updated: 5/28/2014 7:17 PM

Stunner! Chicago teen upsets top player at French Open

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  • Chicago's Taylor Townsend knocked off 20th-seeded Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the third round of the French Open

      Chicago's Taylor Townsend knocked off 20th-seeded Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the third round of the French Open
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

PARIS -- For all the problems facing Taylor Townsend on Wednesday at the French Open, the 18-year-old American's first Grand Slam tournament, she always had her notebook to offer comfort and counsel.

So along the way to beating 20th-seeded Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the third round, the 205th-ranked Townsend sat at changeovers and read what she'd written during practices. Those jottings were useful when Townsend was losing five games in a row to blow a 4-1 lead in the second set, or letting most of a 5-1 edge slip away in the third, or dealing with the wildly partisan crowd.

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"They just kind of get me back into a state of mind ... (of) keeping things simple," she said. "I mean, I have been doing it for so long, it's kind of a habit now, so if I don't read it, it's weird. ... But it also helps me, especially in situations like today."

Townsend wouldn't offer specifics on what she writes in her notebook, saying with a smile: "I can't give you my secrets."

Townsend, who says she's working toward a high school degree, earned a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association based on her results during a series of lower-level tournaments this spring. Now she's the youngest U.S. woman in the third round at Roland Garros since 2003.

"These are the moments, these are the things, that any young professional athlete is working for," said the bubbly Townsend.

She celebrated on court with a dance that's popular in her home state of Georgia, then chuckled through her news conference, including when informed that Wimbledon champion Andy Murray tweeted about her.

Next for her is a match against another seeded opponent, No. 14 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. Win that, and Townsend would be the youngest American to get to the fourth round in Paris since Serena and Venus Williams in 1998.

It just so happens that Townsend lasted longer at this French Open than the Williams sisters, who own a combined 24 Grand Slam titles but both lost earlier Wednesday.

Townsend didn't even realize Serena Williams, the defending champion, had been defeated 6-2, 6-2 by Garbine Muguruza of Spain. Asked at her news conference about that result, Townsend looked genuinely stunned, putting her left palm to her check and saying: "Serena lost? She did? Oh. Oops. Whoa. ... I thought she won. I saw (the score), 2 and 2. I was like, 'Oh, that was fast.' Wow."

Townsend won the girls singles and doubles titles at the 2012 Australian Open and became the first American since 1982 to hold the year-end No. 1 junior ranking.

"She's an unpredictable player. She can play some amazing shots. I think that ... she was a bit scared to finish the match," said Cornet, 24, whose best Grand Slam result was getting to the fourth round at the 2009 Australian Open.

"She has huge potential," Cornet said. "I will keep a close eye on her." =

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