By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Marion Bartoli moved one step closer to retaining her AEGON International crown with another impressive display on her favourite surface.
The French star appearing much more formidable than when she won the 2011 Eastbourne title, overwhelmed Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-2 on Centre Court – and whacked down eight exceptional aces.
The no7 seed never got out of the starting blocks, with Bartoli dictating the game from her very start to stun the Czech Republic ace.
Bartoli, the no4 seed, conceded just two points on her serve and polished off the one-way contest with a thunderous ace to send Safarova crashing out with a whimper.
Bartoli, in her ninth Eastbourne event on the trot, admitted:
“I’m feeling in good form right now because I’m playing quite well – it’s good to have this kind of form before Wimbledon – and I’m feeling I’m serving well.
“But today I was glad to finish before the rain started. On grass you have to be very careful, because when it gets wet you can really hurt yourself quite badly – which is the last thing you want to do three days before a Grand Slam.
“So far I’m able to able to play well and to stay consistent into my matches, which is really important on grass.
“I truly feel it’s every time I’m playing the first match in a tournament. I was glad I was able to play quite well already, and I’m improving.”