By Bill Pierce
Marion Bartoli is back on a roll after an injury-plagued year and is preparing for another tilt at the Wimbledon title after racing into the semi-finals of the International Women’s Open at blustery Eastbourne.
The surprise 2007 finalist at SW19, when she lost to Venus Williams, is seeded only 11 this time but has found her form and fitness again following a painful slump and knocked out powerful Russian teenager Alisa Kleybanova 6-3 6-3 to reach the last four.
Last year the French player was eliminated at that stage by the now-retired Justine Henin – the eventual winner – but Bartoli reversed that result at the All-England Club, coming back from a set down to shock the Belgian.
Since then she has suffered a succession of injury problems and almost pulled out of the Eastbourne event after damaging her wrist in an early exit at Birmingham last week – her fourth defeat in a row.
But she made light work of her second round task against Austria’s Sybille Bammer on Wednesday and underlined her renewed ambition by dismissing qualifier Kleybanova in similar fashion despite tricky conditions.
Eastbourne’s high winds made a mockery of the bold predictions being made about new wonder-kid Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark who crashed out 7-6 6-4 in the quarter-finals against the more experienced Australian Sam Stosur, a noted doubles champion just making her way back in singles after serious illness.
Stosur, 24, who was out for nine months with a near-lethal combination of Lyme Disease and viral meningitis, simply coped far better with the blustery weather