Bartoli battles McHale in Paris

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IOL pic jan31 tennis marion bartoli Associated Press (File image) Marion Bartoli

Paris - French number one Marion Bartoli celebrated her recall to the country's Fed Cup team on Wednesday with a battling 7-5, 6-1 second-round win over American Christina McHale at the Paris Open.

Earlier in the day captain Amelie Mauresmo ended Bartoli's nine-year exile from the international stage by naming her in a five-player squad to face Germany in next month's World Group II first-round tie in Limoges.

The world number 10 will be joined in the French team by Alize Cornet, Kristina Mladenovic, Virginie Razzano and Pauline Parmentier.

“I'm very happy to return to Fed Cup,” Bartoli said in her post-match news conference, citing her relationship with two-time Grand Slam champion Mauresmo as a factor in her return.

“The communication was always there with Amelie, it happened bit by bit.

“I talked a lot with my dad. He supported me in my project and in my decision because he only wants me to be happy,” added Bartoli, whose long-term absence from the team stemmed from her insistence on having her father and coach, Walter, by her side during the competition, a demand that contravened team rules.

Bartoli, runner-up to Angelique Kerber in last year's final, was forced to call upon her fighting spirit in the first set in the French capital, fending off four set points on McHale's serve at 4-5 before eventually breaking to level.

The third seed then made further inroads in her opponent's subsequent service game as a fortuituous bounce off the tape ultimately handed Bartoli the opening set.

With the momentum fully in Bartoli's favour, she broke McHale twice more in the second set to earn a quarter-final showdown with Germany's Mona Barthel, who came from a set behind to knock out Italian fifth seed Roberta Vinci.

Meanwhile, second seed Petra Kvitova overcame bouts of inconsistency as she edged past Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele in straight sets.

Seeking to put her early-season blues behind her after poor displays in Brisbane and Sydney were compounded by a second-round exit at the Australian Open, world number eight Kvitova experienced little resistance early on from Voegele, racing 4-0 ahead.

But the Czech then began to misfire as Voegele, ranked 100, forced a tie-break before Kvitova restored order to close out the first set.

The 2011 Wimbledon champion was again far from convincing in the second but she eventually prevailed 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to set up a last-eight match with either French teenager Mladenovic or Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who ousted Russia's Anastastia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (9/7), 4-6, 6-3.

Sixth seed Lucie Safarova avoided a third consecutive first-round exit in Paris as she fought back from a set down to beat Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino, while Kiki Bertens and Magdalena Rybarikova also progressed to the second round. - Sapa-AFP


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