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Bartoli rips up the script to enter final
July 07, 2007 15:39 IST
Marion Bartoli was in dreamland at Wimbledon on Friday after producing the performance of her life to beat world number one Justine Henin [Images] in the semi-final.
The 22-year-old French number three looked out of her depth initially on her first Centre Court appearance but inspired by former 007 actor Pierce Brosnan [Images] she stormed back for an unbelievable 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory.
"I saw him in the crowd and thought it's not possible to play so bad in front of him," she said. "So maybe this was a bit for Pierce Brosnan.
"If you think I beat the world number one, Centre Court, almost full, then I'm in the final of a Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon, if you tell me that before I wouldn't believe you."
"But I believe in myself and on a good day I can beat anybody and I proved it today," she added.
The daughter of a doctor who is also her coach, Bartoli is not a conventional tennis player.
She does not have the flowing strokes of compatriot Amelie Mauresmo, last year's champion, instead she punches the ball with double-handed backhand and forehand.
She is not very tall either and her service action would not be found in many coaching manuals.
But her flat groundstrokes are extremely effective.
She reached the semi-finals at both the Edgbaston and Eastbourne grasscourt tournaments in the run-up to Wimbledon and dispatched third seed Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round here.
The world number 19, whose previous best Grand Slam run was the fourth round at this year's French Open, said her victory was reward for her father Walter.
"He's a very good doctor, a very good coach, a very good father," said Bartoli, who now lives in Switzerland [Images].
"When I was young we didn't have any indoor courts. We used to practise on a multi-surface court, it had volleyball and basketball lines all over the place.
"My dad used to put targets out. If I touched the targets I would get some candy. So I was very motivated. That's why I still love candy."
Explaining her technique, she said the indoor court she used to play on had a brick wall right behind the baseline, meaning she had to adapt her strokes.
"The wall was one metre behind the baseline so I had to take it as early as possible, I played thousands of shots like that. I learnt my game on this court."
If she can beat three-times former champion Venus Williams on Saturday it would be stretching the credibility of even the most outrageous James Bond [Images] scripts.
However, she intends to live another day.
"I've never played Venus but I've beaten the world number one so I've got a lot of confidence," she said. "Even if I lose the first set I won't go out. I will try my best to win this match."