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Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 16:07 UK

Baltacha bid ends in heavy defeat

WIMBLEDON
Date: 22 June - 5 July
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Elena Baltacha

Highlights - Baltacha loses tight first set

By Chris Bevan
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Elena Baltacha's bid to reach the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2002 was ended by a comprehensive 7-5 6-1 defeat by Kirsten Flipkens.

Baltacha, the last British woman left in the singles, made a promising start and broke to lead 3-1 early on.

But the 25-year-old's serve faltered and a series of errors at 5-6 let her Belgian opponent snatch the first set.

Flipkens, the world 110, is ranked four places below Baltacha but ran away with the second set to seal a crushing win.

"I started well but I just could not keep it going," a disappointed Baltacha said afterwards.

Everyone goes crazy about one week [Wimbledon] and expects someone to do fantastic, otherwise you're a failure. That's a shame

Elena Baltacha

"I knew it would be a tricky match - it was very winnable and a great opportunity but I knew I would have to perform well because she had beaten a seed in the first round and is moving up the rankings.

"After going 3-1 up, I didn't serve so good and started making more mistakes, and things got worse in the second set."

Baltacha's defeat left Andy Murray - who brushed aside Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in his second-round match - as the only British survivor from 11 entrants in the singles.

And, in truth, it was a disappointing exit for the Scot, who had beaten Flipkens, 23, in both of their previous meetings and was playing for a chance to take on world number one Dinara Safina.

Initially, Baltacha's thumping serve put her on top in the blazing sunshine, while Flipkens, a former Junior Wimbledon champion, struggled to find her feet.

A succession of double-faults gave Baltacha the first break at 2-1, and she looked in confident mood as she extended her lead.

But sadly for the British fans who had packed out Court Four, Baltacha's own serve began to let her down and Flipkens was soon level at 3-3.

The first set was still wide open but, at 5-6, the British number two crumbled.

Flipkens looked unsettled by a slip and was feeling her thigh but, instead of taking advantage, Baltacha pressed the self-destruct button.

JONATHAN OVEREND BLOG

Two unforced errors - either side of a blistering forehand winner by Flipkens - handed the Belgian two set-points and, although Baltacha saved one, she put a weak forehand into the net on the next rally.

Baltacha had come back brilliantly after losing the first set to beat world number 33 Alona Bondarenko in the first round but there was to be no repeat of that comeback here.

The match became completely one-sided, and Baltacha's increasingly fragile serve was broken twice as Flipkens raced 5-0 ahead in the second set.

Baltacha did save three match-points before getting on the board but it was only a temporary respite as Flipkens easily served out for the match, sinking to her knees after hitting a delicate drop-shot winner to complete her win in an hour and 17 minutes.

I couldn't find my rhythm - Baltacha

Baltacha faced more media criticism of British tennis in her post-match press conference but defended the achievements of her female compatriots.

When asked about Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe's comments that British tennis players should have their funding cut if their results are not good enough, Baltacha replied: "That's a bit harsh - judge us on what we do over the whole year, not just at Wimbledon.

"I can only speak on the women's behalf but, if you look at the bigger picture and look at how the girls have actually done through the year, I don't think that anyone's budget should get cut for that.

"Just because the girls lost in a tight two sets or a tight three sets, you've got to look at what has actually been going on for the whole year.

Elena Baltacha
Baltacha was the last British woman to reach the third round, in 2002

"A lot of people think that everything revolves around Wimbledon but it is just one week of the year for us. If nothing happens at Wimbledon, it's not the end of the world.

"Four or five British women are fighting for a top 100 place and our rankings have all gone up. Everyone goes crazy about one week [Wimbledon] and expects someone to do fantastic, otherwise you're a failure. That's a shame.

"Am I worried by this defeat? Not at all. I'm going to take the positives out of this week, I beat the world number 33 in the first round which is my best win.

"I'm not worried, I still believe I am going to move forward."



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Baltacha win lifts British gloom
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Results
26 Jun 07 |  Results
Women's singles results
26 Jun 07 |  Results
Wimbledon: Live map
22 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis


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