Ailing Bartoli beats Ivanovic to reach last four

Bartoli shrugged off a stomach bug to become the first player to reach the semis at Indian Wells.

Updated: Mar 17, 2011, 09:19 AM IST

Indian Wells: France`s Marion Bartoli shrugged off a stomach bug to become the first player to reach the semi-finals at Indian Wells with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over former world number one Ana Ivanovic on Wednesday.

Bartoli, at 26 the oldest player left in the draw, won three consecutive games to claim an error-littered first set and ended the match by clinching the second set tiebreak 7-4 with an overhead smash into an open court.
The Frenchwoman, handed a place in the last eight when Belgian Kim Clijsters retired from their encounter the previous day with a painful shoulder, knelt down on the court and pumped both fists in celebration.

She then ran over to the players` box to kiss her father and coach Walter Bartoli, who introduced his daughter to the game at the age of six.

"I`m super-excited and so happy to be in the semi-finals at Indian Wells," 15th seed Bartoli said courtside after beating the 19th-seeded Serb for a third time in seven meetings.

Bartoli, a winner of five WTA titles, will meet either 10th-seeded Israeli Shahar Peer or 23rd seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in the last four.

Peer and Wickmayer were scheduled to play Wednesday`s only other women`s quarter-final in the evening session.

The day began on a low note for the ailing Bartoli who had been unable to eat anything for breakfast.

"I slept before my match because I was really feeling sick," she said. "I went on court and at the beginning, the weather was not that hot, so it kind of helped me."

"But then it started to feel really hot and then in the end of the first set I was definitely not feeling very good."

There were eight breaks of serve in a wildly fluctuating second set before Bartoli, renowned for her two-handed play on both sides, took control in the tiebreak.

"To be able to still win these kinds of matches against a player as good as Ana, it means a lot to me," she said with a smile after reaching her third WTA semi-final this year.

"The thing about Ana, sometimes she just plays too good. Even if you come up with some great points, she just fires back with some amazing shot. Sometimes she was breaking me to love and I was not even serving poorly."
Asked how she managed to muster the energy to win the second set when clearly struggling on court, Bartoli replied: "I was taking a lot of time between the points, walking very slowly."

"I really took the bit of energy I still have in my body to try to save it. In a way, it helped me to relax but I knew I had to finish in two sets, because three would have been very difficult."

Ivanovic, champion here in 2008 and runner-up in 2009, had been aiming to reach her first WTA semi-final of the year.

Bureau Report