Top seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and 15th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli advanced smoothly to the final of the Indian Wells WTA tournament with commanding victories on Friday.
Runner-up here last year, Wozniacki outslugged Russian Maria Sharapova from the baseline 6-1, 6-2 after Bartoli had shrugged off the lingering effects of a stomach bug with a 6-1, 6-3 demolition of Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
World No 1 Wozniacki, making very few mistakes against a harder hitting opponent in their evening encounter, broke an error-prone Sharapova three times in each set to triumph in 80 minutes at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“Definitely didn’t expect such a score, but I’m very pleased about the way I played and the way I got my tactics to work,” the 20-year-old Dane said after reaching her third consecutive WTA final this year.
Sharapova, champion here in 2006 but playing her first tournament in five weeks after suffering a viral infection, was frustrated after a “really flat” performance.
Bartoli, at 26 the oldest player left in the draw, broke a listless Wickmayer five times in dazzling afternoon sunshine to claim a lopsided victory.
The Frenchwoman squealed in delight after hitting a backhand winner down the line to beat her 23rd-seeded opponent for a third time in three meetings.
“I’m very excited to be in the final,” Bartoli, runner-up at Wimbledon in 2007, said after ending a run of seven successive defeats in the last four of WTA events.
“It was just a matter of time. I had everything in my game to be there, but it was just a matter of putting everything together at the right time and being tough on the court.”
The Frenchwoman, who fired 10 aces and won 83 percent of her first serve points against Wickmayer, has not appeared in a WTA final since she won the biggest title of her career in Stanford in 2009.
“And knowing I could be there, like I did in the final of Wimbledon, helped me mentally to really stay positive, even when I had some bad results, and to really stay focused,” Bartoli said.
Djokovic on a roll
Novak Djokovic moved relentlessly into the semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Friday, extending his perfect record this season to 16-0.
Djokovic came from 0-3 down in the second set and capitalised on a rising tally of unforced errors by his opponent, who was under pressure.
The Serbian world number three will next meet three-times champion Roger Federer, who brushed aside his fellow Swiss and doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4 in the last eight.