"I never dreamed about winning a Grand Slam, just about playing with Pete" – that's what Marion Bartoli said at this week's Bank of the West Classic in Stanford after realizing her childhood fantasy of hitting with ATP World Tour legend Pete Sampras. However, as much as off-court activities were fulfilling for the second-seeded Bartoli, her on-court performance was below the capacities of the 2009 Stanford champion and runner-up in 2008 and 2011 that she is.
In the second round Bartoli rebounded from a 5-2 deficit in the first set and even saved set points before winning 11 straight games for a 7-5 6-0 victory over unranked Mallory Burdette, while in the quarterfinals she fell to Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-2.
However, the following quote of Bartoli assures me that she will soon forget the loss and remember this Stanford only by Sampras:
He would never overact on court. He was very much the same person on and off the court. The way he was loyal to his family and his coaches, the way he cried on court against Jim Courier at the Australian Open, that's the kind of person I like. He was the greatest champion. I just liked him and no one else!
In the other quarterfinal matches, top seed Serena Williams advanced with a 6-4 6-0 win over Chanelle Scheepers, Coco Vandeweghe followed up her upset win over fourth seed Jelena Jankovic with a victory over Urszula Radwanska to book her first WTA semifinal, while Sorana Cirstea was victorious in quite a ridiculous match against Dominika Cibulkova. Cirstea was correct on six of nine challenges in the first set of her 6-7(5) 6-2 6-0 victory.
Toward the end of the set I was challenging everything because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I thought someone was playing a joke on me to see how I would react. It was like Candid Camera because there were too many mistakes. I started to laugh because it was just hilarious. The chair umpire never ruled and today if we didn’t have a challenge system I would be packing my bags for San Diego.
Bank of the West Classic semifinal pairs: Serena Williams (1) vs. Sorana Cirstea (9) and Coco Vandewegde vs. Yanina Wickmayer (5). (photo: © Neal Trousdale)