Re: Bartoli nap helps her to semi-finals
Bartoli weathers Krajicek storm to line up Henin showdown
Richard Jago at Wimbledon
Thursday July 5, 2007
Marion Bartoli is the rain-break queen of SW19. For the second successive day the Frenchwoman recovered from water torture and an uncomfortable deficit, beating Michaella Krajicek 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to become one of Wimbledon's most improbable semi-finalists.
Bartoli performed the restart trick twice in defeating the world No3 Jelena Jankovic on Tuesday, and was a set down yesterday against an 18-year-old opponent who had been trampling her way forwards with much weight of shot and little inhibition.
Then the stair rods fell from the sky. Two hours later, Bartoli broke Krajicek's serve for the first time, clung to the advantage to take it to a decider, and then began preying cleverly on the youngster's fears.
"This time I slept during the break," the Frenchwoman said. "When I put my head down in the locker room I was so tired I fell asleep and when I heard the referee's office calling I woke up."
Bartoli is well made for these exasperating situations. Not only does she remain steady but she gains a respite from long spells of play which might expose her relative lack of mobility and stamina.
Jankovic had put it less politely. "If we played long rallies she got tired. She was breathing hard. And when we came back she was completely different."
Bartoli is better than this sounded. She has modelled her style on Monica Seles, which means that with double-handed strokes on both wings she alters the angle of the racket face with subtlety to create rare discomfort for an opponent trying to regain optimum movement after a delay.
Like Seles she is coached by her father, Walter, who, Bartoli says, makes her practise tight situations by pretending the score is 30-40 and serving with only one ball. The 22-year-old had also worked out how to break down Krajicek's big game. She stood in close and tried to make angles which kept the ball away from the Dutch player's formidable forehand.
It brought huge reward at 2-2 in the final set. At 30-40 on her serve, Krajicek tried to attack on the backhand as well as the forehand and caught the ball with a ballooning top edge. Her screeched disappointment announced that as a turning point. At the end she held her head but she had done more than enough to suggest that, like her brother Richard 11 years ago, she has the kind of imposing game with which she will make her name at Wimbledon.
Bartoli now faces Justine Henin, the top seed. Could she succeed where Amélie Mauresmo, her compatriot, failed? "I won't answer that question till I get to the final." She may be praying for rain.