Marion Bartoli (left) of France shakes hands with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic following their women's singles tennis match at the Eastbourne tournament in Eastbourne, southern England.

Eastbourne - French holder Marion Bartoli defeated Czech Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday to book a semifinal place at the pre-Wimbledon Eastbourne event before rain set in.

All four women's quarters were completed but officials stood the men down at the ATP-WTA event, telling Andy Roddick, holder Andreas Seppi and the rest to come back on Friday for a possible two matches on the day.

German fifth seed Angelique Kerber waited out an interruption of more than two hours but held her nerves to reach her seventh semifinal of the season in defeating 2010 champion Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-4.

Kerber, winner of WTA titles this season at Paris indoors and Copenhagen, was leading a set and 3-1 when rain forced her and Makarova off court.

“It was not easy to manage this. You don't know how long we need to wait until it stops raining, but I'm happy to go out there after the more than two hours rain delay and win the match,” said the eighth-ranked German.

“This is my first time here, and I'm enjoying my stay. The courts are very good, so I think that's the best thing I can do before Wimbledon.”

Austrian Tamira Paszek reached her first semifinal in nine months as she beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-0, 6-4, putting an end to the campaign of the 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Czech Klara Zakopalova swept the last five games and survived a weather halt on the cusp of victory in her defeat of Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-5.

The match was interrupted after the Russian's sixth double-fault had given Zakopalova a break point, which she converted to lead a set and 6-5. After the break, the pair came back for three minutes as Zakopalova closed out the win.

Bartoli said that her game has improved all week on grass at the tune-up on the English south coast.

“I'm feeling in good form right now, I'm playing quite well. It's good to have this kind of form before Wimbledon. Obviously I will see how the (Friday) draws come out and try to play the same way,” said the Frenchwoman.

“I was glad to finish before the rain started. On grass you have to be very careful, because when it gets wet you can really hurt yourself quite badly, which is the last thing you want to do three days before a Grand Slam.”

Bartoli has not missed Eastbourne for the past nine years and could become the first holder to defend since Justine Henin in 2007. - Sapa-dpa