Wimbledon: Bartoli d. Flipkens
WIMBLEDON, England—Marion Bartoli prepared for her semifinal with Kirsten Flipkens by hitting, by my count, 14 balls in 14 seconds. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when, facing Flipkens’ slow-moving slice, Bartoli teed off on the ball, hitting it as hard as she could and wherever she wanted. “Today I saw the ball like a football ball,” the No. 15 seed would say afterward.
With a smothering performance, Bartoli dropped just three games en route to her second career Wimbledon final. The Frenchwoman wrapped up a 6-1, 6-2 win in just over an hour, hitting 23 winners to Flipkens’ ten. She nearly doubled Flipkens in points won (53 to 28), and was 11 for 11 on points where she ventured to net.
As patterns go, today’s was apparent right away. Bartoli was the aggressor, hitting out on both wings and stepping inside the baseline to return serve. It made her unique serve-return routine—a mix of hopping, shuffling, and shadow-stroking—even more imposing. Flipkens, on the contrary, tried to slow the points down, opting for slice almost exclusively on her backhand side. She did come to net 21 times, but won a paltry 38 percent of those points. Bartoli was deadly accurate today, and the disparity in the two ladies’ backhands grew as the score became more lopsided.
It wasn’t as if Flipkens had no opportunities to make inroads, but she misfired at important, early moments—in particular, down break point in the second game, when she handed Bartoli early momentum—and holding serve proved to be as difficult as breaking it. She held just twice today.
When Flipkens took a medical time-out down 3-0 in the second set, she put together an unexpected break, but that was meaningless without the equally important consolidation. Bartoli, wiping a rare streak of bad play from memory, resumed her savage returning and took an insurmountable 4-1 lead.
The result was never in doubt today, not even when, back in the first set, Bartoli executed a tough two-handed swinging volley to perfection. It was a portentous sign for Flipkens, who had a fantastic and memorable Wimbledon run. But on this day it was all Bartoli, who should prove to be a staunch challenge for either Agnieszka Radwanska or Sabine Lisicki, her possible final opponents.
What was in doubt was whether Bartoli could wrap up the match in under an hour, and when she held at love for a 6-1, 5-1 lead, it looked possible. But the Belgian put together a hold to resounding applause, ensuring the clock would pass the 60-minute mark, and made Bartoli hit an unorthodox volley and a deft pass to begin what would be the final game. Normally, with a spot in the Wimbledon final on the line, these would be demanding requests. But I think it’s safe to say that Bartoli isn’t your normal player.
Two points later, it was safe to write Bartoli’s name in the final match of the Wimbledon bracket.
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