Sat, Jun 23, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Bartoli advances to Eastbourne semis

MEN RAINED OFF:Klara Zakopalova will join Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals, but holder Andreas Seppi and the US’ Andy Roddick were facing double duty yesterday

AFP, EASTBOURNE, UNITED KINGDOM

Czech Klara Zakopalova plays a shot against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during their quarter-final on the sixth day of the tournament in Eastbourne, England, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Defending champion Marion Bartoli trod carefully on a rain-soaked court to advance to the Eastbourne semi-finals on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Czech Lucie Safarova.

However, while the women were able to complete their four matches on a day of poor weather, it was a different story for the men as the quarter-finals of the ATP event were put back by a day.

That left holder Andreas Seppi and US star Andy Roddick among those told to prepare for double duty yesterday at the Wimbledon tune-up which is due to end today.

The scheduling decision was made despite clear skies in late afternoon on the longest day of the year and a forecast yesterday for morning rain. Fourth seed Bartoli was joined as a winner by Klara Zakopalova, with the Czech taking the last five games to defeat Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-5.

That contest was stalled by passing a rain cloud with Zakopalova leading a set and 6-5 after a sixth double-fault from her opponent led to a break point and the conversion.

The pair came back out when conditions cleared and played for three more minutes as Zakopalova advanced a step closer to a possible second grass-court trophy after winning in the Netherlands in 2005.

In a match seriously interrupted by the weather, German fifth seed Angelique Kerber, the only woman remaining who has won a title this season, defeated 2010 champion Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-4.

“It was not easy to manage this, because you don’t know how long we need to wait, when it’s stopping raining, but I’m happy to go out there after the more than two hours rain delay and win the match,” Kerber said. “It means a lot to be in another semi-final [her seventh] this year.”

Tamira Paszek reached her first semi since September with a defeat of 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-4. The Austrian will next play Bartoli, who beat her in their only meeting five years ago.

Bartoli was so intent on victory over Safarova that she automatically adapted to conditions to earn the win in 73 minutes.

“We had like five minutes of rain I think after the first set, it started to get a bit wet,” the 2007 Wimbledon finalist said. “But then we had sunny patches, so the court was dry again. I was glad to finish before the rain started, but I was so focused on what I had to do that I didn’t feel it was bothering me much.”

“On grass you have to be very careful, because when it gets wet you can really hurt yourself quite badly, which is the last thing you want to do three days before a Grand Slam,” she added.

Bartoli is playing the Wimbledon tune-up for the ninth year in a row and could become the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to defend her title at Devonshire Park.

The winner lost just two points on serve in the second set and ended with four breaks of her opponent’s serve.

“So far, I’ve been able to play well and to stay consistent into my matches, which is really important on grass,” said Bartoli, 23-13 this season with seven career titles.

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