STANFORD, CA, USA - Marion Bartoli made a winning start to one of her very favorite tournaments on Thursday, rebounding after a slow start to get past college tennis star Mallory Burdette at the Bank Of The West Classic.
Bartoli, a one-time champion and two-time runner-up at the Premier-level event, and this year's No.2 seed behind Serena Williams, found herself down 5-2 in the first set against Burdette, even facing double set point in the next game. But the No.10-ranked Frenchwoman found another gear against the unranked American, winning 11 games in a row to complete a runaway 75 60 victory.
"Mallory played extremely well at the beginning, taking the ball very early and hitting very flat into the corners - I felt at times like I was playing against myself," Bartoli said. "She just won her first match on the WTA in the first round, which probably gave her a huge confidence boost coming into this match. I expected her to go for her shots and play very well against me today.
"I knew I had to wait a bit for her to come down, and that I had to improve my level. I've played so many matches in my career and I know when you're down you can turn the match around. I couldn't worry about the score."
Burdette was disappointed but looked at the bright side. "I'm definitely aware of how great that experience was," the American said. "I'm a bit disappointed because I think I had my chances in the first set, as she was getting going in her first match of the tournament, but it's a testament to how great a player she is. When you're playing a top player like Marion, if you don't take your chances, those players will probably come back and take those chances away from you."
And those set points? "I wasn't thinking about those two set points very much afterwards - I was so nervous at that point I hardly even remember them!" Burdette commented. "After the first set they weren't in my mind at all. I just kept trying to do the best I could. And I really enjoyed the match."
Bartoli lifting her game in Stanford isn't just about the tennis facilities. "I've always loved Stanford. I love to be on the court and I love to study when I'm off the court, so this city kind of represents both of my passions. You have a huge university here. I've been to the library. And my cousin is in UCLA, so she's not really far from here. I hope to see her when I play in San Diego next week."
And the Frenchwoman is hoping to lift her game all week here, after losing early at Wimbledon. "It was hard to be out of Wimbledon so early. My opponent played a great match - I don't want to take anything away from her - but I should have played better. But you just have to take it, go back and practice harder. As long as I'm bouncing back from those days, that's good for me. The day when I feel like I've hit rock bottom every time I have a loss, that will be a problem."
Also moving through to the quarterfinals were No.3 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who rolled past Japanese qualifier Erika Sema, 61 63; No.9 seed Sorana Cirstea, who defeated Chinese lucky loser Zheng Saisai, 63 63; and Urszula Radwanska, who upset No.8 seed Marina Erakovic in three sets, 63 36 64.