Marion Bartoli was in complete control throughout her Wimbledon semifinal encounter with Kirsten Flipkens. The French star won in straight sets (6-1, 6-2) to advance to the championship match.
The sudden resurgence of Bartoli, who had made just one Grand Slam semifinal since 2008, has been one of the tournament's biggest stories. The victory leads to her second major final; she previously lost to Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2007.
Flipkens was unable to make any serious progress against an in-form Bartoli. The biggest key for her was taking control of the match from the outset to force the No. 15 seed into a defensive game. It never happened.
Instead, Bartoli was the more aggressive player throughout. She used her wide array of skills and a strong return game to put the pressure on Flipkens, who was playing on the biggest stage of her career by a wide margin.
Just as impressively, the inconsistency that has plagued Bartoli in previous years was absent. She played with supreme confidence from the first ball, and it showed. She was hitting every shot with purpose, and Flipkens was simply no match.
The first set was over in just 27 minutes. Bartoli connected on eight winners to Flipkens' three, and she converted on two of three break-point opportunities. She was also successful moving forward, winning all four points at net.
The story didn't change early in the second set. Bartoli rushed out to an early 3-0 lead, using the same combination of shots that allowed her to cruise through the opening set. Her movement remained solid, and she didn't back off her aggressive approach.
A brief glimmer of hope emerged for Flipkens after taking a medical timeout. She got treatment on her right knee and came right out to break Bartoli for the first time.
The comeback charge was quickly squashed, though. Bartoli broke right back in the following game to regain control of the match. She held in her next service game and went on to finish off Flipkens without any more drama on Centre Court.
Bartoli finished with 23 winners, 13 more than Flipkens, and converted five of seven break chances. She was clearly the better player throughout the match, and she earned her place in the final. If she continues to play at this level, a Wimbledon title could very well be her next stop.
She plays the winner of the second semifinal match featuring Agnieszka Radwanska and Sabine Lisicki. Either of those players would present a far greater challenge than Flipkens was able to, but both would certainly be winnable matches for the 28-year-old.
All told, Bartoli is playing some of the best tennis of her career and has been rewarded with another trip to the Wimbledon final.
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