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Bartoli Edges Pennetta, Serena Cruises On

One of the most in-form players on grass faces one of the all-time grass court greats in the 16s.

Published June 25, 2011 12:00

Bartoli Edges Pennetta, Serena Cruises On
Marion Bartoli

LONDON, England - The last time Serena Williams was pushed to three sets in her first two rounds at a Grand Slam, she lost the next one - that was far from the outcome this time. Though it was much tougher than the score would suggest, Williams moved smoothly into the second week of her first Grand Slam in a year, getting past Russia's Maria Kirilenko in straight sets, 63 62.

Williams, the No.7 seed, served exceptionally - she only faced one break point in the match, and she saved that - and returned exceptionally as well, winning in 90 minutes and improving to 4-0 lifetime in her head-to-head against Kirilenko.

"This was the best I've played since I came back," Williams said. "I was a little more consistent and played my game more. I even saw my serve - I was like, 'Where have you been?' He was at a party or something. But he's back."

The only other time Williams was pushed to three sets in her first two matches at a major, here at Wimbledon in 2005, she ended up losing her next match in straight sets - that year, Jill Craybas conquered her. "I'm still alive and it feels good. I'm hoping to be around and planning to be around a lot longer."

Next up for Williams is No.9 seed Marion Bartoli, who won a three-hour, 13-minute thriller with No.21 Flavia Pennetta, rallying from 5-3 down in the third set to beat the Italian trailblazer, 57 64 97. "I was fighting against Flavia. But even if I ended up losing the match, I didn't play badly," Bartoli said. "It was a really high quality match and at the end it was just a few points here and there. It's probably one of the best matches I've played at Wimbledon - even in 2007 I don't think I played that well. So it's a good feeling to end up being the winner."

Williams leads Bartoli in their head-to-head series, 2-0.

"She's good and she moves fast," Williams said about the Frenchwoman. "She does everything really well and is a really, really good returner, so I'm going to have to make sure I'm in there serving really well on Monday."

"With Serena or Venus you have to step it up, especially at Wimbledon," Bartoli said. "Serena is the ultimate competitor. You never count her out. I saw her in Eastbourne, it was her first match since barely 12 months, and she was 6-1 down in the first set and somehow found a way to beat Pironkova, who is a very good grass court player. She always finds a solution. And the record she has here - and the same for Venus - shows what great champions they are.

"No matter what the result will be, I will still be proud of myself."

Rounding out the round of 16 line-up were Tamira Paszek, who beat No.6 seed Francesca Schiavone in the longest match of the tournament, 36 64 119 in three hours and 41 minutes; Petra Cetkovska, who followed up her upset of No.13 seed Agnieszka Radwanska with another upset over No.18 seed Ana Ivanovic, dusting off a 62 76(0) victory with a big ace; and Sabine Lisicki, who followed her upset of No.3 seed Li Na with a routine 64 62 win over Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi. The round of 16 all takes place on Monday.

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