Kirsten Flipkens, Belgium’s next hope for a WTA champion after the retirement of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, is doing her best to make her country proud at Wimbledon this year. The No.20 seed, who suffered from blood clots in 2012 that forced her out of the game for two months and which left her with a ranking outside of the top 250, defeated Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta 7-6(2), 6-3 for her first quarter-final at a major.
The 2003 Wimbledon girls’ champion Flipkens overcame a tough first set against Pennetta, a three-time quarter-finalist at the US Open. Twice the Italian attempted to serve out the set, but proved unable. With variety and strong all-court games from both players, it was Flipkens who edged out her opponent in the tie-break.
Serving to close the first set and hold true to her seeding, Flipkens struck an ace, leaving Pennetta noticeably unnerved due to the missed opportunity for the upset.
The second set, however, proved to be a more routine affair for the Belgian 27-year-old. On serve at 1-2, Flipkens picked up her form and clutched a game at love. To punctuate the impressive play, she struck an ace.
It would be Pennetta to falter first at 2-3 as the aggressive game of her opponent began pressuring her to come with bigger shots. In fact, Pennetta struck three consecutive errors to donate the break to Flipkens and inch her closer to a spot in the final eight.
Serving for the match at 5-2, however, it would be Flipkens who blinked as Pennetta did in the first. Although she struck an ace to get to 15-30, a drop shot winner helped the Italian lengthen the match.
But Flipkens wouldn’t be so nervous in the next game, however, preying off errors from the Italian for a 0-40 lead. Although she squandered a first match point, she hit a forehand smash winner to close out the match on her second try.
The Belgian fell to the grass of the All England Club in victory. She kissed the ground and with tears in her eyes basked in the opportunity to play in a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final so late in her career.
In support of her friend and Belgian successor, Clijsters, a four-time major champion and former world No.1, tweeted, “V.happy to see @FlipperKF reach first quarter-final of grand slam! She so deserves it!!!! #proud.”
Flipkens next faces 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova for a place in the final four.
After the match, Flipkens spoke about advancing to the final eight of The Championships 2013. "It feels great to be in the quarter-finals of a Grand slam. I just feel I am blessed."
She continued, describing playing on Court No. 18: "The atmosphere was great. There were plenty of peple coming out and watching us play, so it was a great atmosphere."
About playing Kvitova in the next round, Flipkens said, "I’m just gonna enjoy it and give 200 per cent."
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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