Marion Bartoli reached the Wimbledon finals without dropping a single set. (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)
WIMBLEDON, England -- Marion Bartoli is into her second Wimbledon final after outclassing an injured and possibly overwhelmed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2 in the first women's semifinal on Thursday. In a match that barely lasted an hour, Bartoli gave an impressive display of all-court tennis; she effectively served, lobbed, drop-shotted and blasted her way past Flipkens, who was player in her first career Grand Slam semifinal. The 20th-ranked Belgian never looked sure of herself; Bartoli, who claimed to have taken a nap just 30 minutes before the match, appeared driven and poised from first ball to last ball. She finished the match with 23 winners to 10 unforced errors and was a surprising 11 for 11 at the net.
"Oh my Gosh, I just really can't believe it right now. I was playing so great," Bartoli breathlessly told the BBC. "Today I saw the ball like a football. I was playing so well. I was hitting the ball very cleanly from the start. She was playing a lot of slices so I needed to be very good with my footwork."
Bartoli went out of her way to offer her commiserations to Flipkens.
"I want to congratulate her for a fantastic Wimbledon ... I think maybe she was a little bit injured today ... I wanted to give her a hug in the end. I wanted to give her my respect."
Bartoli will play the winner of the second women's semifinal between No. 24 Sabine Lisicki and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska.
Game-by-game analysis of Bartoli-Flipkens after the jump.
9:11 am. ET | Marion Bartoli advances to the Wimbledon final, defeats Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2.
"I'm not sure a Kirsten Flipkens living on both legs could live with Bartoli on this form," the BBC commentator said.
Quite right. This is by far the best match Bartoli has played all tournament and the best she's played in months. She fires down an overhead on match point and falls to the ground in a move that is weirdly reminiscent of Flashdance. Only you, Marion. Only you.
"The little likable ball of perpetual motion that is the Frenchwoman is back into the final." I tip my cap to you on that line, BBC.
As Amelie Mauresmo looks on, Bartoli is sobbing at her chair. Incredible effort from her to make her second Wimbledon final and first since 2007. Laugh, mock and poke fun at Marion Bartoli all you want, people. She's very good tennis and that's all that matters.
9:09 am. ET | Bartoli leads 5-2.
In case you're looking ahead like I am, Bartoli is a combined 1-10 against Radwanksa (0-7) and Lisicki (1-3), potential opponents in the finals. That said, if she plays as well as she's playing today I'd throw those records out the window. Radwanska isn't going to give Bartoli these puff slices to hit and Lisicki's a completely different beast in how heavy and hard she hits the ball. Completely different match-ups compared to what Flipkens is today.
A little too late? Flipkens finally gets a clean hold to 2-5 and Bartoli will try and serve for her spot in the Wimbledon final after the changeover.
9:02 am. ET | Bartoli leads 4-1.
Well how about that. On the restart after that medical break, Flipkens hits a return winner that wakes up the crowd, and eventually gets the break as Bartoli sends a forehand long.
The break is short-lived. I never thought I'd say this, but Bartoli's best shot today? Her lob. Flipkens hasn't gotten one back yet, and she's been beaten by it over and over and over again. Bartoli breaks back and leads 4-1.
Marion Bartoli has not lost a set this tournament. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
8:53 am. ET | Bartoli leads 3-0.
Bartoli isn't taking her foot off the pedal. She breaks Flipkens in the first game with a perfect lob as she's running to her forehand corner. How does she even hit that with a two-handed forehand? Perfectly weighted.
"She likes the slice backhand but I haven't seen her come over a backhand," McEnroe observes. He's right, and that's more evidence that Flipkens' footwork is heavy today. She's just not getting into position to take a crack. "She just doesn't look like she thinks she belongs out there right now."
Flipkens has told Alison Hughes that she'd like to see the trainer on the changeover. It could be for her knee, which is heavily wrapped. Then again, she might just need a breather to get her mind right.
Bartoli gets another break and she looks well on her way to her second Wimbledon final. Flipkens is getting treatment on her right knee. She tells the trainer that she's struggling when she comes down on her serve. She's receiving a medical time-out. "I also fell in the first set," Flipkens tells the trainer. "At the moment I didn't feel anything." Says she can't get any lift on her serve. Her fastest serve today is 105 mph. She popped one at 114 mph two days ago against Kvitova.
8:38 am. ET | Bartoli wins the first set, 6-1.
As much as I'd like to focus on Flipkens' nerves, this has been a masterful match from Bartoli. Her experience, intensity and focus is showing. While Flipkens looks like she has cement blocks for shoes, Bartoli is showing such clarity of thought in how she wants to play this match. She gets another break and serves out the set with an ace that kicks up the chalk. She jogs to her chair and even Amelie Mauresmo, who is sitting in Bartoli's box, looks bored. That set took a mere 27 minutes.
If you ever needed a more stark example of Wimbledon's highly conservative statisticians, let us just note that the official numbers say Flipkens hit four unforced errors in that set. Any other stat-minder would have more than double that number.
Kirsten Flipkens has won only one WTA title in her career. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
8:30 am. ET | Bartoli holds, leads 4-1.
At what point do players start to think, "Oh crap, I don't want to get bageled on Centre Court in my first Wimbledon semifinal"? Asking for a friend...
At 15-all, Flipkens plays her best point of the match. She fires down a good serve, the pulls Bartoli wide to her backhand to earn a floating defensive reply that she finishes with a crisp volley at the net. The net is her friend today, especially right now when she's still so nervous. She just can't find her rhythm on that side. Lucky for her, the other big weapon in her arsenal, her serve, is starting to click. A nice flat serve wide on game point earns a netted return and Kirsten Flipkens is finally on the board.
This is a pet peeve of mine. At this point, we all know about Bartoli's quirks; every joke in the book has been made about them. Unless you can come up with something new, just chill out and appreciate what she's able to do on the tennis court. She's the biggest overachiever in the game. Respect.
Flipkens is getting into Bartoli's service game but she's still showing signs of nerves. Either she's trying to guide the ball or she's trying to hit through her nerves. Either way, she's missing.
"Don't kid yourself and tell yourself it's just another day," says John McEnroe. He recalls being so overwhelmed when he played his first semifinal. "I don't know how you prepare for it ... Until you're out there you just don't know what's going to happen."
8:21 am. ET | Bartoli leads, 3-0.
"It is one of the game's most extraordinary service actions," says the BBC commentator as Bartoli double-faults on the second point of the match. "Complicated?" says Lindsay Davenport. Yes, we get it. Marion Bartoli is a freak and she plays a very weird style of tennis. But hey, it's worked for her entire career, one that has seen three Grand Slam semifinals and a Slam final. That's a heck of a lot better than a lot of "conventional" players.
Bartoli holds after Flipkens hits a perfect lob but misjudges the put-away volley and nets it.
I was very impressed with Flipkens' forehand in her last match, but it's going to be the weakness. Chalk it up to the nerves for now, but she's not accelerating through the ball quite yet. Her footwork is slow and Bartoli breaks her with relative ease. It took a few games for Flipkens to get going against Kvitova. Hopefully the nerves subside and we can get a free-flowing match.
Nice overrule by chair umpire Alison Hughes (nee Lang) at 15-30 on a serve out wide that was out. Bartoli double-faults to give Flipkens a look to get the break back at 15-30. Bartoli eventually saves a break point with a nice patient rally, which sees Flipkens try to work her slice around the court and Bartoli patiently sending it back until she gets a short ball she can pound into the corner. She holds to 3-0 and sprints to her chair, as is her wont.
So Bartoli is fired up and running. No surprise there. Check out how she warmed up for this match out in Aorangi Park this morning. This is not a GIF. It is mesmerizing. Click on the image to view.
8:00 am. ET | Warm-up
Both players are on court and warming up, Flipkens with her trademark prescription Oakleys and Bartoli with grey headband. Both women are sporting some visible tape, with Flipkens's right knee strapped up and Bartoli's right hamstring strapped with black kinesio tape. I've heard quite a few players say that Bartoli is one of the most frustrating players to warm up with because she simply doesn't know how to hit an easy warm-up shot. She just smacks the ball for winners, meaning rallies are rare. I mean, really, would you expect anything else?
The two have never faced each other and Flipkens said -- though I'm not sure I believe it -- that she's not that familiar with the Frenchwoman's game. I'm sure her good friend Kim Clijsters has the book on the hard-hitting Bartoli, so look for Flipkens to try and play a similar match to the one she played against Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. You can read my full preview of the match here.
Bartoli will serve first. It's an overcast day but the weather should remain dry. The Centre Court roof is open.
No. 15 Marion Bartoli and No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens will meet in the semifinals of Wimbledon on Thursday. The match is scheduled for 8 a.m. ET. The winner will play Agnieszka Radwanska or Sabine Lisicki in Saturday's final. ESPN will televise both semifinals.
Bartoli, 28, is seeking her second appearance in a Wimbledon final; she lost to Venus Williams in the 2007 championship match. The Frenchwoman hasn't dropped a set in five matches. In her only match against a seeded player, Bartoli defeated No. 17 Sloane Stephens 6-4, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
Flipkens, 27, a year removed from dropping to No. 262 in the rankings after being diagnosed with blood clots in her calf, is contesting her first Grand Slam semifinal. She upset 2011 champion and eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals, committing only five unforced errors in three sets. The Belgian hasn't faced a seed besides Kvitova.
This will be the first meeting between Bartoli and Flipkens.