After the excitable Chinese spectators’ disappointment in seeing the total collapse of Na Li in the second set against Maria Sharapova in the first of the semifinals on centre court, their spirits were lifted by some absolutely fabulous tennis in the second semi between Marion Bartoli and Victoria Azarenka.
Bartoli came out with a sure game plan against the world number one and she really stuck to it by breaking Azarenka in the first game, only for the player from Belarus to break back immediately. Azarenka, certainly the best returner of serve in the women’s game, held for 2-1 but Bartoli also held. Games then went with serve all the way to 5-4 in favour of Azarenka who eventually managed to break Bartoli again when she double faulted on set point, to take the set 6-4.
The second set was an equal display of wonderful power tennis on both sides of the net, with both players going for the lines – and hitting them time and time again – with some aggressive and mesmerising ground strokes. Azarenka held for 1-0 and broke to lead 2-0, but Bartoli came back with a break of her own to trail 1-2 and narrow the gap. However, the Belarusian was striking the ball so cleanly from all over the court that she immediately went up another break this time she managed to consolidate it to take a 4-1 lead. After the players exchanged a couple more breaks, Bartoli was serving to stay in the match at 2-5 down. Although the Frenchwoman is a great believer and consistent fighter, she was unable to find any answers to the Belarusian’s aggressive play today, with Azarenka prevailing 6-4 6-2 in one and a half hours. Despite the score, the match was close with many games going to deuce and advantage many times, with long rallies which were won by a hair’s breadth.
The final between the number one and number two seeds, Azarenka and Sharapova respectively, should prove to be a feast of great tennis from to women with great attitude and ability.