When she's "on," Marion Bartoli is a veritable hitting machine. She was on tonight in Miami--so much so that she ended world number 1 Victoria Azarenka's win streak, which had stretched to 26 matches. This was a very enjoyable match, especially the first set. Azarenka looked tired and frustrated as the match went on, and even though she was usually spinning her serve in, she committed a lot of service faults.
Bartoli took the first set 6-3, then her level dropped a bit, and she went down a break in the second. But she put things right, broke Azarenka again, and won that set 6-3, also. Bartoli, known for her aggression, stands at or inside the baseline and takes the ball very early. The Frenchwoman described tonight's match as "almost table tennis."
Azarenka can now get a much-deserved rest and prepare for the European clay season.
In today's other quarterfinal, Agnieszka Radwanska took out an obviously weary Venus Williams, 6-4, 6-1. And while it was obvious that Williams wasn't herself, credit should go to Radwanska for playing at a high level.
We won't know for a while whether Williams' fatigue was caused by her illness, a lack of match play, or both. At any rate, it was great to see her back on the court, and to see her make a run to the quarterfinals.
In doubles, Vania King and Monica Niculescu advanced with a win over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Flavia Pennetta. In the other quarterfinal, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova continued their winning ways by defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova.
One thing is certain: There will be a first-time winner in Miami. Tomorrow, Caroline Wozniacki plays Maria Sharapova, and Bartoli takes on Radwanska.