Melbourne - Former champion Maria Sharapova beat
second seed Petra Kvitova in three sets to reach the final of the
Australian Open on Thursday and set up a shootout for the number one
spot with Victoria Azarenka.
The Russian, seeded fourth, overcame
some poor serving to outlast Kvitova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 and move into
Saturday's final, where she will play Belarusian Azarenka, the third
In a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final, Kvitova and
Sharapova threw everything they had at each other for almost two and a
quarter hours on Rod Laver Arena.
Sharapova, who won in Melbourne
in 2008, dominated the first set and Kvitova the second, with the pair
evenly matched in the third until Kvitova faltered at 4-5 to lose her
serve and send Sharapova through to the final.
struggled with her serve all afternoon but somehow managed to stay in
the contest despite sending down 10 double faults, many at key moments.
felt like in the third she always had the advantage because I was
always down on my serve," said Sharapova, adding: "And I just thought
you have got to go for it."
Kvitova had 14 break point
opportunities but only managed to convert three of them as the tenacious
Sharapova somehow managed to hold on.
By contrast Sharapova had only five break point chances on Kvitova’s serve, but won them all.
just hung in there and got a few returns in in the last game," she
said. "She was serving so well in the third. Maybe that was the key."
left-handed Kvitova, 21, looked nervous in the early stages with
Sharapova appearing far more settled than her younger opponent.
24-year-old Russian dominated the baseline rallies and tended to come
out on top the longer they went on, wrapping up the first set in 36
But Kvitova lifted her game at the start of the second
and raced into a commanding 3-0 lead when she held serve after Sharapova
served two double faults to surrender an early break.
number two was growing in confidence and she was untroubled as she took
the second set with a booming ace to level the match.
gained the early advantage in the third, breaking Sharapova to take a
2-1 lead as the Russian's serving woes continued, but the Czech’s nerves
got the better of her and some poor serving saw her drop the next game.
then went with serve in the third set, with Sharapova struggling to
hold and Kvitova cruising, but at 4-5 the Czech cracked and Sharapova
erupted with delight as she reached her third Australian Open final
who burst onto the tennis scene in 2004 when she won Wimbledon as a
17-year old, took the US Open title in 2006 and the Australian Open in