WIMBLEDON, Britain -- Sloane Stephens’ Wimbledon journey ended Tuesday in the quarterfinals, taking the last American singles entrant out of the competition.
Stephens, who has trained in Carson at the U.S. Tennis Assn.'s Training Center-West facility for more than five years, was beaten by Marion Bartoli of France, 6-4, 7-5, in a rain-delayed match on Court 1.
Stephens, seeded No. 17, had reached the quarterfinals here for the first time.
Bartoli’s semifinal opponent on Thursday will be No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, who dismissed No. 8 seed and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court.
Playing in her first career Grand Slam quarterfinal at age 27, Flipkens won with an ace on her third match point. Kvitova challenged the call but a replay showed that it was good, and she then came to the net to congratulate Flipkens.
“It’s amazing. It’s more than a dream coming true,” Flipkens said. “Last year, I didn’t even get into the qualifying.”
Bartoli, known for her fierce, two-handed forehand, fought off two break points to win the ninth game of the first set. Bartoli had two set points in the next game but what had been an occasional rain became more persistent, and Bartoli complained to match officials about the dangerous conditions -- to the fans’ dismay.
“I don’t understand why the crowd was against me,” she said, noting that the courts were already slippery and that she believed the rain was making the surface too perilous to continue.
Play was suspended with Bartoli leading, 5-4, with the game at deuce. When it resumed, Bartoli broke to win the set, 6-4.
Stephens, though moving well, had difficulty holding serve in the second set. During one stretch, she won only one of 17 points on her serve and she was broken four times, including when she double-faulted in the eighth game to give Bartoli a 5-3 lead.
But Stephens then broke Bartoli’s serve, a gutsy effort against a more experienced opponent, and the American then held to pull even at 5-5. Bartoli held to go up, 6-5, and she broke Stephens’ service in the final game, clinching the victory when Stephens punched a forehand long.
Stephens is 20 and Bartoli is 28 and playing in her 11th consecutive Wimbledon tournament, a resume that includes a runner-up finish in 2007.
“It was a really tough battle today,” Bartoli said, adding that she knew she had to improve her serve to a level at which it would match her strong returns.
“I’m very pleased just to be in the semifinal once again.”
Wednesday’s play is to feature four men’s quarterfinals. No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain versus No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina on Centre Court, followed by unseeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain against No. 2 Andy Murray of Britain.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia is set to play No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the first match on Court 1, followed by the first ever all-Polish Grand Slam quarterfinal, between unseeded Lukasz Kubot and No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz.
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