A repeat of last year’s semi-final had high expectations for the Court 1 crowd, but Victoria Azarenka never got out of the starting blocks and was forced to wave the white flag after being outplayed and struggling with an injury flare-up.
In six previous meetings the Belarussian ace had dropped just a single set, but battler Marion Bartoli – who came close to a shock exit in the second round – rewrote the record books by storming away with the opening set.
Bartoli, currently at a career-high world no9 after her forays in reaching the last four at Roland Garros, has an impressive grass court pedigree by finishing runner-up at 2007 Wimbledon and four semi-final appearances on the bounce at Devonshire Park.
And Bartoli’s unorthodox style outfoxed Azarenka throughout, resulting in frustrated shrieks prior to bowing out. Interestingly Azarenka’s past five defeats prior to today have all been to the eventual champion, which should give Bartoli some hope when she plays her sixth semi-final this year.