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andrewbroad Apr 5th, 2008 11:41 AM

Eastbourne 2007: Andrew's TV-report
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S OPEN (Eastbourne, England; grass; WTA Tier II)

1r + Tathiana Garbin, 6-2 6-3
2r + Melanie South [WC], 6-1 6-3
qf + ELENA DEMENTIEVA [4], 6-1 6-0
sf - JUSTINE HENIN [1], 1-6 3-6

First-round article (Tuesday 19th June 2007)
Marion Bartoli was the next-highest seed to take to the court on Day 2 of the tournament and she looked in sparkling form at the Wimbledon tune-up event, racing past Italy's Tathiana Garbin in just 69 minutes. The two players are separated by just three ranking spots, but it was the No.8 seeded Frenchwoman who settled the quicker of the two players onto the slick grass-courts of the Devonshire Park International Tennis Centre, notching up her first career-victory over Garbin with a 6-2 6-3 win.

Quarter-final articles (Thursday 21st June 2007)
Bartoli, the No.8 seed, was in superb form on Court 1, cruising through against former US and Roland Garros runner-up Elena Dementieva, 6-1 6-0.

Bartoli proving big hit (by Oliver Brown for The Daily Telegraph)
If you like your women fast, ferocious and French, then do not rush to stake your whole Wimbledon war-chest on Amélie Mauresmo. For it appears that there is a pretender in town, in the curvaceous shape of Marion Bartoli, whose relentless returning-game has been cutting a swathe across the sedate Eastbourne lawns.

Bartoli yesterday did not so much overcome Elena Dementieva - once a French and US Open finalist - as obliterate her. A blur of manic energy, she pumped her arms between points and pounced on loose balls with double-handed backhands so lethal that even Serena Williams might have envied them. Her statuesque Russian opponent had no weaponry to match, and was pulverised 6-1 6-0.

How much should we read into such a battering? Not too much, if you were to believe Bartoli, who claimed graciously that she was "just as likely to lose" to Dementieva at Wimbledon. But the Frenchwoman has in her possession that elixir of the modern women's game: power. She likens herself to Monica Seles, taking the ball early and unleashing the flattest of returns, and is undoubtedly one to watch.

But Mauresmo also has pressing business this week, with the Eastbourne-final likely to pit her against Justine Henin, whom she vanquished to such acclaim at Wimbledon last year. The problem is that the Belgian's switch to grass has also been brisk - having expected to be tested by the Czech Nicole Vaidišová, she showed only a steely purpose to prevail 6-2 6-2.

"I was clear in my head about what I wanted to do," Henin said. "The way I played tactically, she never had a chance to get her rhythm."

A tactical conundrum awaits her today, though, when she confronts the brute force of Bartoli.

Semi-final TV-report (Friday 22nd June 2007)

- MARION BARTOLI [8,S] lt. JUSTINE HENIN [1], 1-6 3-6

First set
BARTO ___*___ 1
HENIN *@* *@* 6

Henin serving 0-0: Henin backhand wide. 0/15. A long rally ended with Henin hitting a backhand winner down the line, just inside the baseline, but Marion didn't even try to run. 15/15. Marion backhand long. 30/15. Marion netted a tame forehand. 40/15. Henin netted a sliced backhand, but the one she hit before that certainly looked vicious enough to trouble Marion. 40/30. Marion backhand return long.

Marion serving 0-1: Serve out wide + crosscourt backhand + crosscourt forehand winner - great spreading! 15/0. Henin crosscourt backhand winner - again, Marion looked very immobile. 15/15. Marion opened up the court with a crosscourt backhand, and hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line. Virginia Wade: "Seles-like: really pinning down the ball and stretching out the opponent." 30/15. Service-winner down the middle. 40/15. Henin came to the net, forcing Marion to hit a forehand lob long. Sam Smith: "Constant pressure, constant advances." 40/30. Marion backhand just long, but it looked good to me! 40/40. Henin forehand drop-volley winner. Ad Henin (BP). Henin netted a backhand return. Deuce #2. Marion, driven wide, netted a forehand. Virginia Wade: "Playing with two hands on both sides is that much harder to cover the court." Ad Henin (BP #2). Marion netted a forehand to give Henin the first break.

Henin serving 2-0: Marion hit a forehand long after running down a short ball. 15/0. Marion hit a wild forehand into the net, and it would have been wide. 30/0. Serve out wide + off-forehand winner forced Marion to hit a backhand lob wide. Sam Smith: "Making it look so simple; high levels of concentration." 40/0. Henin hit a deep, error-forcing forehand down the line.

Marion serving 0-3: Deep service-winner out wide. 15/0. Henin hit a backhand volley-winner after a long rally in which the netcord took the sting out of what would have been a backhand winner down the line for Marion on the third stroke. 30/0. Henin backhand long. 30/15. Marion netted a forehand. 30/30. Marion's crosscourt forehand induced Henin to spray a forehand wide. 40/30. Marion hit a fantastic short-angled crosscourt forehand just inside the sideline, forcing Henin to hit a defensive forehand lob long.

Virginia Wade: "Bartoli doesn't quite hit the ball as early as Monica. It's a terrible match-up against Henin, in terms of their styles of play on a grass-court."

Henin serving 3-1: Henin ripped a crosscourt backhand winner. 15/0. Second serve: Marion crosscourt backhand return just wide. 30/0. Serve forced a weak lob-return; Henin off-forehand winner. 40/0. Marion hit a great crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 40/15. Marion backhand return wide.

Virginia Wade noted Marion's aggressive returns, and said she used to stand just behind the service-line to receive!

Marion serving 1-4: Henin forehand return-winner down the line. Virginia Wade: "She doesn't recover quickly enough after she hits her serve." 0/15. Henin sprayed a forehand wide. 15/15. Marion hit a hard crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, forcing Henin to earth a backhand. 30/15. Henin, driven wide, hit an amazing short-angled crosscourt forehand winner. 30/30. Double fault (second serve just long, just wide). 30/40 (BP). Henin ended a long rally with a forehand winner down the line, and shouted "allez!"

Henin serving 5-1: Marion ran down a dropshot and nailed a crosscourt backhand virtual pass-winner. 0/15. Marion netted a forehand. 15/15. Marion hit a backhand pass wide off a deep forehand approach down the line from Henin. 30/15. Henin forehand long. 30/30. Marion crosscourt backhand + crosscourt forehand forced Henin to earth a forehand. 30/40 (BP). First serve in, hard backhand: Marion crosscourt forehand just wide. 40/40. Service-winner. Ad Henin (SP #1). Ace down the middle caught the outside edge of the centre-line.

Second set
BARTO * * *____ 3
HENIN _* * *@*@ 6

Marion serving 0-0: Marion played a good spreading rally, culminating with an off-forehand + crosscourt backhand winner. 15/0. Service-winner down the middle. 30/0. Service-winner out wide. 40/0. Henin forehand long (good deep forehand from Marion).

Henin serving 0-1: Marion sprayed a crosscourt backhand wide. Virginia Wade: "Just not judging that variety of topspin from Henin." 15/0. Henin crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. 30/0. Henin netted a forehand on the third stroke. 30/15. Double fault (second serve into the net). 30/30. Service-winner down the middle. 40/30. Henin forehand wide (pushed back on her heels by a deep return). 40/40. Marion netted a backhand off a short ball. Ad Henin. Marion backhand wide.

Sam Smith: "Henin gets inside her opponents' heads. They find her so difficult to play, they can't even do the /basics/ well."

Marion serving 1-1: Service-winner down the middle. 15/0. Service-winner out wide (backhand return just long). 30/0. Henin hit a "devilish" backhand half-volley dropshot-winner. 30/15. Service-winner out wide. 40/15. Henin hit a forehand return halfway up the net.

Virginia Wade [re. Marion]: "It's the footwork that lets her down. Just doesn't get into position sometimes."

Henin serving 1-2: Marion netted a forehand return. 15/0. Henin came to the net behind a sliced backhand; Marion netted a forehand pass. 30/0. Ace out wide. 40/0. Ace down the middle.

Virginia Wade: "Transitional play means getting a short ball and approaching the net. It's sadly lacking in most of today's players, and it really shows up on a grass-court if you don't have it."

Marion serving 2-2: After carefully maintaining the initiative that a short ball from Henin gave her, Marion hit a backhand dropshot-winner down the line. 15/0. Henin netted a backhand. 30/0. Marion backhand long on the third stroke. 40/0. Henin netted a forehand. 40/15. Marion netted a backhand off a low-bouncing sliced backhand from Henin, but she really shouldn't have. 40/30. Marion drove Henin wide with a crosscourt forehand, and Henin netted a forehand.

Virginia Wade (re. 30/0): "You don't want to be so careful that you /push/ the ball, but you have to eliminate careless errors like that."

Henin serving 2-3: Henin netted a backhand. 0/15. Marion hit an off-backhand winner onto the sideline on the fourth stroke. 0/30. Henin's crosscourt forehand made Marion stretch wide and net a forehand. "Allez." 15/30. Marion went for a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner, but it was just wide (and she hit a ball long earlier in the rally, but it was not called). 30/30. Henin's crosscourt backhand forced Marion to hit a backhand wide - Marion had an open court with Henin stranded near the left netpost, but the ball was just too difficult to control on the run. Marion emitted a little squeak and sank to her knees. 40/30. Serve + crosscourt forehand winner.

Marion serving 3-3: Marion backhand just long. 0/15. Henin netted a backhand return. 15/15. Henin forced Marion to chop a backhand wide. Virginia Wade [re. Marion]: "'A' for effort." 15/30. Marion netted a forehand. 15/40 (2 BPs). Serve out wide but down-the-line backhand wide. Henin scored the first break of the second set.

Henin serving 4-3: Service-winner. 15/0. Henin backhand smash long, but she hit a vicious sliced backhand approach just before that! 15/15. Serve + off-backhand winner. 30/15. Henin forced a short ball, pushed Marion to Marion's backhand-line, and hit an easy forehand winner down Marion's unprotected forehand-line. 40/15. Serve + forehand winner.

Marion serving 3-5: A deep crosscourt forehand return into the corner forced Marion to net a forehand half-volley, which would also have been wide. 0/15. Henin chipped & charged, forcing Marion to net a forehand pass. 0/30. Henin sprayed a wild forehand very long. 15/30. Double fault (second serve into the net). 15/40 (2 MPs). First serve out wide: Henin netted a simple forehand return. 30/40 (MP #2). Marion came to the net, but couldn't control a forehand volley, hitting it just long & wide. Henin won 6-1 6-3.

Henin, Mauresmo Set Up Wimbledon Rematch

World No.1 Henin was the first to advance to the championship-match, dismissing No.8 seed Marion Bartoli in one minute shy of an hour: 6-1 6-3. The Belgian played dominant tennis from the outset to run her lifetime-record against the Frenchwoman to 2:0, an impressive 77% first-serve percentage and four service-breaks highlighting the stats.

"I haven't played too long the last few days, so this has been good preparation," she said. "I feel better than last year at the same time. I am still fresh. It was a big decision to come here and play. I am getting better, I feel great on the court, and I am enjoying it. I am happy with the matches I have had so far this week."
Top seeds Justine Henin and Amélie Mauresmo set up a star-studded final at the International Women's Open as they both racked up comfortable semi-final victories.

World number one Henin was again in tremendous form as she ended the impressive run of France's Marion Bartoli: 6-1 6-3.

She will now be bidding to become the first woman since Chanda Rubin in 2002 and 2003 to lift the Eastbourne trophy in successive years.

Henin said: "I haven't played for too long the last few days, so this has been good preparation for me. I feel better than last year at the same time. I am still fresh. It was a big decision to come here and play.

"I am getting better, I feel great on the court and I am enjoying it. I am happy with the matches I have had.

"It will be perfect playing a strong opponent in the final, and it will be a big test on this surface."

Dr. Andrew Broad

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