Marion Bartoli faces off against Kirsten Flipkens in the first of the ladies’ semi-finals and it’s a matchup that represents a clash between players who have experienced both recent injury/health troubles and distant Wimbledon highs.
2007-finalist Bartoli has been hampered by injuries to her left foot and right ankle in recent months which forced her to retire in Miami and were still effecting her at the French Open. A viral illness forced her out of her Eastbourne prep-tournament too, making her progress here all the more impressive.
Flipkens had fallen to 262 in the world rankings at the time of last year’s tournament after suffering life-threatening blood clots whilst in Thailand, but had fought her way back to a rank of 20 before this year’s tournament.
Both ladies have a pedigree on the grass courts of SW19, with the Frenchwoman a losing finalist in 2007 having KO’d Flipkens’ compatriot and then world number one Justine Henin at the semi-final stage.
Despite failing to get beyond the third round in any Slam before this season, her adversary was girls champion at the All England Club in 2002.
Bartoli is 8/13 favourite for the match – as is befitting of a woman who has yet to drop a set on grass this term – and she looks to have an edge on the basis of the pair’s recent performances against Flavia Pennetta on the surface.
The Belgian beat her 7-6, 6-3, whereas Bartoli was more clinical against the Italian world number 166, triumphing 6-3, 6-2.
Flipkens’ serve has been a thorn in her opponent’s sides throughout the tournament, with 34 aces served so-far, but Bartoli has already proven that she’s likely to be undaunted by missiles from the opposite baseline, having fended off leading acer Karin Knapp in the fourth round for the loss of just two aces.
Holding the ignominious honour of having served more double faults than any other player in this year’s ladies’ draw, Bartoli’s own serve has been far less reliable and that she serves more double faults and her opponent wins the aces battle are confident selections at 1/5 and 1/12 respectively.
The quarter-final performance that saw off 2011 Wimbledon championita Petra Kvitova from one set down saw Flipkens ship just five unforced errors, with the Czech living and dying by the sword of her attacking style, hitting more winners and making more errors.
Against previous opponent Pennetta she gave away four times as many points through mistakes and may struggle to reproduce her quarter-final parsimony against the more attritional style of her semi-final rival.
The balance seems to hang in Bartoli’s favour, but her opponent is playing with a much more laissez-faire attitude after her life-threatening health problems and will be relaxed despite the high pressure atmosphere.
As a result it should be close and over 22.5 games are expected – an outcome which can be backed at evens.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.