Bartoli storms into second Wimbledon final

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Marion Bartoli of France reacts after beating Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium to win their Women’s singles semifinal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Thursday, July 4, 2013. AP

LONDON — Marion Bartoli stormed into her second Wimbledon final as the French 15th seed crushed Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday.

Bartoli was beaten by Venus Williams in her only previous Grand Slam final appearance at Wimbledon in 2007, but she finally has another chance to win a first major title after demolishing Flipkens in just 62 minutes on Center Court.

The 28-year-old plays either Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, last year’s runner-up, or German 23rd seed Sabine Lisicki in Saturday’s final.

“I just can’t believe it, I played so well today,” said Bartoli.

“It feels so great. Kirsten had an amazing run and played some unbelievable matches. She was a bit injured today and that must be hard in the semifinals of Wimbledon.

“I gave her a hug because I wanted to show her respect.”

Bartoli said she is playing better and better, having made the final without dropping a set.

“I saw the ball like a football. I was hitting it really cleanly, my footwork was sharp, my passing shots and lobs worked perfectly.”

Bartoli, tormented by injuries and illness in recent months, has enjoyed one of the best spells of her career over the last two weeks.

Flipkens looked drained by her three-set win over Petra Kvitova in the previous round and Bartoli made her pay, hitting 23 winners compared to just 10 from the Belgian 20th seed.

Bartoli failed to even make the last 16 at the Australian and French Opens this year and this was her first Grand Slam last four appearance since Roland Garros in 2011.

But she had stunned another Belgian, Justine Henin, in her previous Wimbledon semi-final six years ago and once again she produced a superb display on the big occasion.

Bartoli, now coached by 2006 Wimbledon winner Amelie Mauresmo instead of her father Walter, used her piercing returns and accurate ground-strokes to overwhelm Flipkens, who was making her Grand Slam semi-final debut aged 27.

Flipkens, a former junior Wimbledon champion, had seen her ranking plummet to 262 after blood clots contracted during a flight from Thailand left her sidelined for several months last year.

She didn’t even qualify for Wimbledon 12 months ago.

The Belgian was wearing her trademark prescription tinted sunglasses, yet she seemed dazzled by the spotlight on Center Court.

She produced a hesitant opening service game and Bartoli took full advantage to break for a 2-0 lead.

Bartoli, an intense character at the best of times, seized her opportunity to take control in ruthless fashion, punching home a volley to move 5-1 ahead before slamming an ace to take the set.

Throughout her career Bartoli’s game has been marked by bizarre routines as she jumps, skips, shuffles and twirls her racket before serving or returning.

And her quirky routine was on full display as she shattered any hopes of a Flipkens fightback with two breaks in the opening three games of the second set.

Trailing 3-0, Flipkens called for treatment and managed her first break of serve after resuming.

That just postponed the inevitable and Bartoli immediately broke again before sealing the victory.

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