Bartoli Wins Slugfest With Stephens
Published July 02, 2013 12:02
It was a match of two halves. With Stephens serving 4-5 and deuce first set, the match was stopped due to rain, and the delay actually chopped the match right in half - a two and a half hour delay.
Upon resumption Bartoli squeaked out the next two points to take the set then broke early to get ahead right away in the second - she led 2-0, then 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3, even coming within two points of victory serving at 5-3, 30-0. Stephens fought back to 5-all but the No.15-seeded Bartoli finished very fast, holding at 15 then breaking one last time at love to send the No.17-seeded American home.
"I could've done even better today, especially when I had this 5-3, 30-0 lead on my serve," Bartoli said. "But I've always prepared for anything on the court. Especially in my childhood and the way my dad made me practice, and the conditions I practiced in, they really were the toughest in the world.
"It has always been my strength to focus mentally and stay strong no matter what is happening."
Having struggled with injuries all year and seeing her ranking drop from No.11 to No.15 in the span of six months, there is arguably no better place for Bartoli to reach her first semifinal of the year.
"In a way it all made me stronger. I felt my body was cracking up all over the place. My ankle was still hurting at the French Open. I wasn't ready for Birmingham, and I got a bad virus at Eastbourne. But in the back of my mind I still thought I could do well here. I think that way every time I come here, for some reason. Just whenever I'm back here, I have a smile on my face. I feel great right away.
And on Stephens? "I really thought she played some amazing shots, especially when I was leading in that 5-3 game," Bartoli said. "She came up with some amazing backhands down the line that were really amazing. I thought she fought extremely hard as well. For someone that young she's doing an awesome job out there. All credit to her. It turned out my way, but we both played some great tennis."
Though she was disappointed, Stephens looked for - and handed out - positives from the match.
"She's a very good returner - you have to be serving well to really get your teeth into the match," Stephens said. "I think my serve let me down in the second set. It's definitely tough, but you have to just learn from it, move on and get better. That works for anything - to get to where you want to go, you have to work really hard. You just have to do everything it takes to get where you want to be.
"I just have to keep working hard. I know where I want to be and I know where I want to get to in the end. It may not happen now, but as I work hard and get older, hopefully it will come eventually."
Bartoli is now through to the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the third time in her career. The first time came here at Wimbledon in 2007, where she staged a remarkable comeback from 61 53 down to beat Justine Henin in the semifinals before falling to Venus Williams in the final; she reached her second Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open in 2011, falling to Francesca Schiavone in that one.