When she was playing, Kim Clijsters was widely considered one of the nicest people on the tour and now it seems her good friend and countrywoman Kirsten Flipkens could usurp that respected title.
The Belgian, whose fairytale spell on the Wimbledon lawns come to a shuddering halt on Thursday when Marion Bartoli brushed her aside 6-1, 6-2 in a whisker over an hour, was full of praise for her French opponent despite the trouncing.
The 27-year-old refused to blame nerves or her injured knee for the whitewashing she was dealt and insisted she would have been required to raise her game by 500 per cent if she were to stand a chance of beating the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up.
“She played an amazing…match,” said Flipkens. “I played my slices, she didn’t have any problem with that. I tried the dropshot, she got it. I played a passing, she came to the net. I tried a lob. I tried everything, actually. I was trying to give myself 100 per cent but it didn’t work out.”
The Belgian fell over in the opening set and confessed to feeling a sharp pain in her right knee. Despite receiving a medical time out, she insisted the injury had no bearing on the semi-final outcome, nor was she overawed by the enormity of the occasion. “I was trying to focus and trying to enjoy every moment out of it, to give myself 100 per cent… I had already the experience to play on Centre Court, actually the nerves were fine.”
Bartoli proved relentless in her onslaught, delivering five aces and 23 winners on the way to victory, disallowing Flipkens the opportunity to play anywhere near the outstanding level of tennis she had employed during her triumph over 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the round before.
“She didn’t let me [play],” the world No.20 said. “If you see my last couple of matches I made really a lot of points at the net. So I was trying to come forward whenever I had the chance, but she just played an amazing lob. I’m too small, so she just had a good solution for that. Of course, when you’re coming to the net on grass, you’re staying as close as you can be at the net. I had very good volleys, but she knew that before, I see.”
Recent times have not been easy for Flipkens, who 14 months ago learned that she had developed blood clots in her calf due to an unknown genetic disorder and was forced to take two months off the tour. Her ranking tumbled so low that she was ineligible for the Wimbledon qualifying event, but one year on – and a decade since she lifted the girls singles crown here – the Belgian is back.
“To have this memory for the rest of my life, ten years after winning the juniors title here, is great," she added. "I mean, I would have signed for that before my career for sure."
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.
20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...View all