WIMBLEDON, England – The abnormal has become the new normal at Wimbledon, where one of the women’s semifinalists was playing too poorly a year ago to compete here and the lone remaining past champion was eliminated Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
“Tennis, it’s kind of a crazy game,” 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli of France said after defeating American Sloane Stephens 6-4, 7-5 in a rain-delayed match to advance to Thursday’s semifinal round.
“But that’s also the magic of it.”
There was far more craziness than magic in the quarterfinals, producing a final four so unlikely one of them couldn’t grasp the concept.
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Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, who has one career tournament title to her credit at age 27, upset No. 8 seed and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court to set up a semifinal against Bartoli.
Kvitova, who later said she was weakened by a virus, saved two match points before Flipkens served an ace.
Flipkens’ stunner continued the string of surprises that began last week with the early exits of Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka and continued Monday with No. 1 Serena Williams’ loss in the round of 16. It also stood out as a shining moment in a career stalled by injuries and frustration. As recently as a year ago, Flipkens wasn’t invited to the pre-Wimbledon qualifying tournament.
“I was ranked 262 (in the world). Today I’m a semifinalist in a Grand Slam,” said the 20th-seeded Flipkens, who trains with four-time major champion Kim Clijsters. “It’s a dream — more than a dream — coming true.”
No. 23 Sabine Lisicki of Germany, playing less than 24 hours after she conquered Williams, maintained her strong serve and solid composure in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Lisicki’s semifinal opponent will be No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who prevailed over persistent sixth-seeded Li Na of China, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-2.
“I think the bigger pressure is in the first week,” Radwanska said. “The quarterfinal is the minimum for everyone, especially when you are seeded.”
Bartoli was booed while trying to show match officials how perilous the wet surface had become late in the first set. The 2½-hour rain delay was a turning point, and it is a matter of debate whether Bartoli acted out of a concern for safety or to get into Stephens’ head.