Paszek problem for Bartoli

Angelique Kerber, Marion Bartoli, Tamira Paszek

Tamira Paszek saw off the challenge of French star Marion Bartoli with a fiercely-fought three set thriller over 185 gruelling minutes.

The 21-year-old Austrian ace saw off the defending champion 4-6 7-5 6-4 in blustery conditions on Centre Court.

Paszek, the world no59, admitted:

I had to try to keep moving and keep focused because it was very, very tough conditions out there.

“It was very, very tough, I just had to try to keep moving, keep my focus. I was actually pretty calm. But I felt my hands were freezing cold all through the match.

“I wasn’t frustrated with the way it is, the weather was that way. You cannot change Mother Nature, so for that reason I just tried to keep focus on every point.

“It feels amazing to be in the final, and I love Eastbourne – it feels like home coming back every year.”

Paszek will play in her first WTA final this term, and in her maiden Eastbourne title decider.

She faces rising German star Angelique Kerber who thrashed Czech Republic’s Klara Zakapolova 6-0 6-3 in an hour.

Beaten Bartoli, who needed her thigh strapped when trailed 3-2 in the final set, fumed:

It was a nightmare to play in those conditions! I got chances in every single game and ended up losing them.

“My leg got pretty tight and then tired, but I think in two or three days it will be back to normal.

“In these conditions, even if I was leading, I never felt comfortable. I didn’t make one ace today, where yesterday I served 10 or 12. It’s really levelling when you have those kind of conditions.

“But I really tried my hardest, and there is not much I could have done better or try harder. On the other hand Tamira played really well, she deserved to win.”

Brilliant Bartoli mops up

Marion Bartoli

Marion BartoliMarion 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.”

Five alive from Zakopalova

Angelique Kerber

Klara ZakopalovaEB2012Klara Zakopalova will face rising German star Angelique Kerber for an intriguing semi-final contest following her dismantling plucky Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Czech Republic always had the upper hand against Pavlyuchenkova, running away with the opening set 6-3.

But she seemed to have a ‘blonde moment’ with a torrid start to the second half and trailing 5-2.

With the rain clouds hovering over Devonshire Park, Zakopalova calmed her nerves to play a more aggressive game and up the tempo.

But rain interrupted the match, after Pavlyuchenkova’s sixth double fault had given Zakapalova a break point – which she converted to lead a set and 6-5.

Following the rain break, the pair came back for three minutes as Zakapaolov closed out to triumph.

The spectators at Court 1 had been treated to an intriguing battle as well as spectacular shots, with Zakopalova capturing five games on the bounce to book her berth in the last four – and ultimately a shot at winning the title.