Radwanska and Bartoli through to China Open quarterfinals

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Marion Bartoli took centre stage at the National Tennis Stadium today against Julia Georges, conqueror of Sam Stosur. Bartoli is one of several players gunning for a spot in the end-of-year championships in Istanbul, and needs to pick up a lot of ranking points in Beijing to help her cause.

Going into the match, the Frenchwoman led the head-to-head 3-1, including a straights sets win over the young German at last week’s Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. In today’s third round match, she got the better of a patchy first set in which both players struggled to hold serve. Bartoli, however, was much stronger when receiving Georges’ second serves, and managed to secure three breaks to the German’s two, winning the set 6-3.

Bartoli’s idiosyncratic style of play infuriates opponents as much as it delights fans. Hitting flat off both wings, she is able to turn defence into attack within seconds, and her unpredictability makes it difficult for foes to find a consistent rhythm. Georges angrily smashed her racket at the end of the first set, and needed some stern words from her coach to help maintain focus.

In the second set, the German found her range on her forehand and hit some scintillating winners. Bartoli withstood the barrage of power hitting, however, sending down five aces and eventually forcing a tie-break, which she comfortably took 7-2.

In her next match, Bartoli will take on surprise quarter-finalist Carlo Suarez Navarro of Spain. The Frenchwoman will be confident of booking a place in the last four, giving her chances of qualifying for Istanbul a major boost in the process.

This was the first last 16 match in the bottom half of the women’s draw. The second featured third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, the defending champion in Beijing. Radwanska, who barely had to break sweat in her second round match, faced Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino for a place in the quarter-finals.

And it was the underdog who began the match in more sprightly fashion. Dominguez Lino raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set, converting both of her break point opportunities and posting an impressive first serve percentage of 82% as she eventually took it 6-2.

Radwanska responded immediately at the start of the second set, breaking her veteran opponent before shutting her out completely on the way to winning it 6-1. It seemed that the Pole had recovered her creative, counter-punching brilliance, varying pace and direction to confound Dominguez Lino and seize the momentum.

However, the Spaniard did not capitulate in the deciding set. With both players struggling to hold serve, she took a 3-1 lead. After a titanic sixth game that saw several deuces, Radwanska evened the score to 3-3, and won three of the last four games to seal a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory in just over two hours.

In the quarter-finals, Radwanska could meet local favourite Li Na, who has defeated her twice on hard courts this year and whose heavy-hitting can be problematic for the world number three.

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