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Bartoli Powers Past Wickmayer In First SF

Marion Bartoli has become the first Frenchwoman ever to reach the BNP Paribas Open final.

Published March 18, 2011 12:00

Bartoli Powers Past Wickmayer In First SF
Marion Bartoli

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Marion Bartoli became the first Frenchwoman ever to make the title match of the $4.5-million BNP Paribas Open on Friday afternoon, powering past Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer handily, 61 63.

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Bartoli, the No.15 seed, came out as strong as ever in the first set, serving huge and hitting her two-fisted groundies to perfection. The No.23-seeded Wickmayer had no answers, her three winners in that set outbalanced by 16 errors.

Wickmayer put the 27-minute first set behind her and hung tough with Bartoli early in the second set, trading breaks in the first two games but staying on serve the next five games; Bartoli seized momentum again though, breaking for 5-3 then serving it out, finishing it off with a big backhand winner up the line.

"At the end I got a little tight, but it happens," said Bartoli, who hit 10 aces in the match. "I'm so happy to be in the final here at Indian Wells. It's one of my favorite stops on the road and I'm looking forward to playing the final Sunday."

"I went down 2-0 and never really got a chance to get into it," Wickmayer said. "She's a good player and made it very tough on me. I'm disappointed, but I'm really happy about the week. I'm just going to take the positives with me."

Bartoli was asked on court about potentially being the first French champion at the Premier stop. "That would be wonderful. BNP Paribas is from France and I'm proud they're the title sponsor here. I hope I can bring the title back home."

The best performance by a French man at this tournament came way back in 1991 when Guy Forget finished runner-up (falling to Jim Courier in the final).

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Next up is No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki or No.16 seed Maria Sharapova, who played the second semifinal at night. If Wozniacki wins that match, Bartoli is projected to return to the Top 10 on the next rankings; if Sharapova wins that, the winner of the final between Bartoli and Sharapova will return to the Top 10.

"It will be a very hard challenge either way, if it's Maria or Caroline," Bartoli said. "I lost against Caroline a few weeks ago very easily. She has played some great tennis since the beginning of the year. Maria is one of the toughest competitors in the women's game. So either way I will be the underdog going into the final.

"I will have absolutely nothing to lose."

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