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Tomic troubles aid Bartoli's Wimbledon dream

Marion Bartoli returns against Sloane Stephens during their Wimbledon quarter-final match on July 2, 2013
Marion Bartoli returns against Sloane Stephens during their Wimbledon women's singles quarter-final match on July 2, 2013. Bartoli reached her third career Grand Slam semi-final with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Stephens.

What began as a late-night scuffle between the father of Australian star Bernard Tomic and his son's hitting partner outside a Madrid hotel, could end with Marion Bartoli winning the Wimbledon title.

When John Tomic was accused of attacking Thomas Drouet in the Spanish capital in May, the French coach left the Australian's camp and began working with Bartoli alongside her father, and full-time coach, Walter.

But Bartoli has opted to compete at Wimbledon, where she was runner-up to Venus Williams in 2007, without her father at her side, preferring instead the input of 2006 Wimbledon champion and compatriot, Amelie Mauresmo and Drouet.

"I have known her since we were young but she always surprises me with her mental qualities every day, her seriousness, her professionalism," said Drouet.

Kirsten Flipkens returns against Petra Kvitova during their Wimbledon quarter-final match on July 2, 2013
Kirsten Flipkens returns against Petra Kvitova during their Wimbledon quarter-final match on July 2, 2013. In Thursday's semi-final, Flipkens will face 28-year-old 15th seed Marion Bartoli.

"In every match, she puts into practice everything we have done in training. For me she is a great champion."

Bartoli, the 28-year-old 15th seed, reached her third career Grand Slam semi-final -- and second at Wimbledon -- with a 6-4, 7-5 win over 20-year-old American, Sloane Stephens on Tuesday.

In Thursday's semi-final, she will face 27-year-old Belgian, Kirsten Flipkens, who will be playing in her maiden last-four at a major.

Mauresmo, the former world number one and the last Frenchwoman to win a Grand Slam title when she triumphed at the All England Club seven years ago, said Bartoli has all the weapons to make Saturday's final.

Sloane Stephens returns against Marion Bartoli during their Wimbledon quarter-final match on July 2, 2013
Sloane Stephens returns against Marion Bartoli during their Wimbledon quarter-final match on July 2, 2013.

"We knew since Monday (after Serena Williams had followed Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka out of the tournament) that the draw was open," said Mauresmo, who has acted as advisor to Bartoli in recent months.

"There is clearly an opening to get to the final. It's a crazy tournament.

"Marion is showing a lot of strength. She is the only one of the semi-finalists not to have dropped a set, she is feeling fresh and she is playing better and better, it's not looking too bad."

Bartoli's win over Stephens, however, was not without controversy.

She fell foul of the fans on Court One when she demanded that play be stopped when she was leading 5-4, 40-40 with Stephens serving as light rain began to fall.

When they resumed after two and a half hours, Stephens quickly dropped the first set and slipped 2-0 down in the second, losing the first nine points as the crowd, convinced that the Frenchwoman's complaints over the state of the court had been unjustified, jeered following their lengthy wait.

"I don't get why the crowd was against me," said Bartoli. "The courts are slippery even when they are dry but when they are wet they can be dangerous.

"I wanted to make sure I didn't get hurt. I didn't want to come off for any other reason."

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