Monday 27 June 2011

Wimblemund 2011, day 7 - TENNIS SPECIAL

A lot of balls under the bridge today. Oh mamma.

Marion Bartoli bt. Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6(6)
After my rather outraged response to Serena "I'm just grateful to be here" Williams' disdain for having to play on Court 2 last week, one might expect that I found this result pretty funny. And I did.

Marion Bartoli reached the final here in 2007 and she certainly seems to be solid enough to repeat that feat in 2011. I was particularly impressed with the way she has achieved such self-mastery, especially with regard to her previously problematic serve. Bartoli now has a strict routine to adhere to, and she's getting great results. The only downside is that her pre-service build up is getting increasingly akin to the episode of Malcolm in the Middle where they go bowling and Hal is on for a perfect game. Should Bartoli be serving for the title on Saturday afternoon, I'd not be surprised if a few extra ticks - a burp, maybe, or getting her left tit out - had crept into the mix.

Andrew Murray bt. Richard Gasquet 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2
In their previous three meetings - including a famous Murray win at Wimbledon in 2008 - Gasquet had managed to win at least two sets against the British number 1. Today, however, the biggest question mark was whether or not the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - sat in the Royal Box - would actually talk to one another. The match was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair after a close first set. Indeed, I switched over to see the final game and the tie-breaker in the Bartoli-Williams match with Murray about to serve at 5-3 in the second. As soon as that was over, I switched back to find Murray serving for the match at 5-2 in the third. A pulsating display against a very gifted opponent. He even found time to look positively jovial in the post-match interview. Andrew Murray is starting to look like a player who is genuinely not feeling the pressure, rather than just saying he isn't.

Other news
Women's seeds and tournament favourites continued to go flying, as if everyone on the WTA tour had unconsciously decided to clear out of the way and let Maria Sharapova - through in straight sets against Shuai Peng on Court 2 - win her second Singles title. World Number 1 (a title conferred to the woman who plays the most matches in a season, rather than on any basis of excellence) Caroline Wozniacki started well but then faded horribly to lose to 24th seed Dominika Cibulkova 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-5. Meanwhile, Venus Williams fell to the same opponent and to the same score as she did 12 months previously at Wimbledon, listlessly succumbing 6-2, 6-3 to Zsvetana Pironkova. Still motoring on in the ladies singles are Petra Kvitova, who will play her fellow 2010 beaten semi-finalist Pironkova in the last eight. For an outside bet, Sabine Lisicki continues her return from serious injury and will now face Bartoli. Meanwhile, the unseeded Austrian Tamira Paszek - who knocked out Francesca Schiavone in round 3 - stands between Belarussian 4th seed Victoria Azarenka and her first ever Grand Slam semi-final berth.

On the gents side, Novak Djokovic made light work of Michael Llodra and will now face Australian number 1 Bernard Tomic, an 18-year old qualifier who is the 4th youngest player - after Becker, Börg and John McEnroe - to make the last eight at Wimbledon. With chaos reigning in the ladies' section, it would still be a brave person who bet against the world's top four ranked male players - Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray - making up the semi-finals as they did a month ago in Paris.

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