The deserved title
June 18, 2011 Leave a comment
I’m not a big fan of the “deserving” motto for sports. I believe sports are ruled by the heart, not by the brains – therefore, you want your favorites to win, whether they are kicking ass or playing a crappy match.
But Marion Bartoli deserved this Eastbourne title. And I’m not saying that just because I particularly like her (BartoGORGEOUS), nor that Kvits winning it all would be an indignity. No. The thing is, Marion deserved it more.
By the start of the year, Bartoli, despite still being a top-20, was coming off a final-less 2010, and her glorious 2007 – highlighted by Wimbledon final – was just distant past. Little ol’ myself gave nothing for her – sincerely, I thought she would wander around, reaching eventual semifinals here and there, but never capitalizing it in titles; she was faded to be a perennial top-25 until the end of her career.
I was wrong. Only a few times before I was so glad to admit that.
It wasn’t before Indian Wells – albeit having two semifinals already – Bartoli got back in the spotlight. Her final run, knocking players like Kim and Ana, reminded us she was still there. She showed some fight – as always – but ended up losing to Wozniacki, thus giving a heart-warming speech. This sealed her return to the top-10 for the first time in three years, though she didn’t stay for long; Sharapova’s final run the very next week in Key Biscayne got Marion out again.
Then the clay season – openly, her worst surface. Prior to Strasbourg, Marion had compiled a mediocre 3-5 record on the swing. But the tides changed. Without facing a player ranked higher than #44, Bartoli made it to the finals, but the 6th title was delayed again, by Petkovic and a thigh injury.
Any expectations for Roland Garros? Historically, no. But, well, she kept winning, beating en route to her first Grand Slam SF since Wimbledon/07, clay sensation Julia Goerges and 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. A dream week, capping her first Grand Slam on her worst surface and in front of the passionate French crowd? “No”, said Schiavone.
But Eastbourne, yes, Eastbourne. Grass that made her famous in 2007. A Safarova, Mary-Jo Martinez, Azarenka and Stosur later, there she was, in the final again.
Marion fought Kvitova – who imploded in the first set – and the wind to take the first, 6/1. In the second, the momentum changed. Kvitova started zoning, rallied from a break down and I once again doubted; thought it was all over when Petra prevailed 4/6. But well, she came through.
The exotic-styled, hyperactive, coached by her father Marion Bartoli came through, despite blowing an opportunity to serve it out at 5/4. She was given another chance, but this time, cashed in. Final: Bartoli def. Kvitova, 6/1, 4/6, 7/5, for her sixth career title, first on grass, first since Stanford/09.
Her YTD W-L record now stands at 36-15 – while she compiled a 34-21 record throughout 2010. So much deserved. Never change, Marion. Never stop hitting imaginary aces into the crowd or bouncing around the court during a match.
PS: Vika continues 100% this year: after four retirements – Indian Wells, Stuttgart, Rome and Eastbourne – the players against whom she retired won the title.