The inevitable just took a little longer in Sunday's women's singles final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament.
Despite a gritty performance by 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli of France, No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark persevered and won, 6-1, 2-6, 6-3. Before a packed stadium in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Wozniacki earned her $700,00 first prize by surviving Bartoli's go-for-broke approach and her own uncharacteristically shaky ground-stroke game.
Wozniacki had lost one set en route to the final, and had quickly dispatched former No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion, Maria Sharapova, in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-2. That took 1 hour 20 minutes. Sunday's match with Bartoli took 2:07.
Bartoli, who gained prominence by upsetting Justine Henin in the 2007 Wimbledon and making it to the final before losing to Venus Williams, was expected to be overmatched and beaten quickly. But she got the second set and stayed with Wozniacki until she missed a high backhand volley to trail, 5-3.
Bartoli served next, but appeared fatigued and later admitted that. At 30-all, she tried an ill-advised drop shot that settled into the net, and on match point, cranked a backhand long.
"You can always say you would have done better," Bartoli said, "but I think I pretty much gave everything on the court."
Wozniacki, who has become a model of consistency, despite specializing more in playing defense than offense, said that Bartoli had played well enough in spurts to cause her some concern.
After the second set, she said she thought to herself, "If she keeps playing like this, well, then it's just too good."
Sampras memorabilia returned
Much of the tennis memorabilia stolen from Pete Sampras last November has been returned, according to an attorney who worked with investigators on the case.
Anthony Salerno, a Century City lawyer hired by the Sampras family to help in the investigation, said Sunday that another attorney allegedly representing those who took the material from a storage facility had contacted his investigator early Saturday morning to say the trophies and other items would be returned, with the expectation of no further investigation or penalty.
Salerno said that boxes of the Sampras memorabilia showed up Saturday morning at a hospital in Marina del Rey, and have now been turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department's commercial crimes division.
Salerno said that he had no idea why they were left at the hospital. He said he hoped that Sampras would have his memorabilia back after the police did an inventory. He said that other things taken from the storage facility, such as furniture Sampras and his wife, Bridgette Wilson, had placed there temporarily while moving homes, had not been returned.
Attendance at the 36th tournament in the desert, the second year of ownership by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, reached the 350,000 mark. Sunday's 16,754 brought total attendance for the 21 sessions to 350,086. Last year's was 339,657.… The purse money in the $9-million event is split evenly by the men and the women. But different tour policies result in different distributions. Sunday's men's singles winner, Novak Djokovic, won $611,000; Wozniacki, $700,000. Tournament Chief Executive Charlie Pasarell said that while his event has pushed for equal payouts, the men's ATP Tour and the women's WTA tour have differing pay scales for earlier and later in the tournament and, by contract, control that.… Pasarell said among the goals for next year's event is to acquire more parking near the tournament. Several times, he said, they have had more tickets to sell, but parking lots have been full and local laws dictate they can sell no more.