Sharapova sets up final date with Kvitova

Sharapova sets up final date with Kvitova

Russian rallies to blow away Lisicki

The Czech, also a semifinalist last year, dominated the first set but then lost her way as the Belarussian fourth seed took the second in her first Grand Slam last-four appearance after four previous quarterfinal defeats.

Kvitova, however, continued to go for her shots and came back strongly to take the third and become the first left-hander to make the Wimbledon women's final since Martina Navratilova, present at Thursday's match, in 1994.

"I can't say anything, I'm so happy," said Kvitova, who will face Maria Sharapova in the final on Saturday. Sharapova beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-4, 6-3 in the other semifinal.

Kvitova -- who beat Azarenka last year during her unexpected run to the semis when she was ranked 62nd -- was far more aggressive throughout the first set, going for the lines and taking risks while Azarenka was content to wait for errors.

It proved a successful tactic for the Czech, who took control and finished it off in style with three successive aces, chalking up the first set after only 27 minutes of action.
In the second set Azarenka finally began to display the form that has brought her so much success this year and lifted her to fourth in the world rankings, while Kvitova's radar suddenly went awry and her game became littered with mistakes.

It was a tense encounter with the crowd struggling to lift themselves but they had a moment of light relief when Azarenka, assailing their eardrums with her trademark screech, complained to the umpire about noise from a nearby errant alarm.

Oblivious to the irony, she got over the distraction and, having broken for a 2-0 lead, cashed in on Kvitova's ragged shots to level the contest between the two 21-year-olds.
Kvitova, bidding to be the first Czech in the final since Jana Novotna in 1998, got herself together again for the third set and took advantage of some poor Azarenka serving to break for a 2-0 lead.

The Belarussian's big chance to hit back came when she was 3-1 down and her opponent was 15-40 on serve but Kvitova, who served solidly through the final set, saved the break points and won the game.

Kvitova missed her first match point when a return floated long but she won it on her second.

In the second semifinal, fifth seed Sharapova, who won the grasscourt Grand Slam in 2004, slipped 3-0 down to the German wildcard in the first set but suddenly found her groove to rattle off a string of winners.

Rain was in the air just as Sharapova was excelling but the drizzle held off and her momentum was maintained.

The second set was again inconsistent from both players but the 24-year-old prevailed and will now fancy her chances against the Czech eighth seed in Saturday's showpiece.

Results (prefix denotes seeding): Women’s singles (semifinals): 5-Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Sabine Lisicki (Ger) 6-4, 6-3; 8-Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt 4-Victoria Azarenka (Blr) 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

Men’s doubles (quarterfinals): 1-Bob Bryan/ Mike Bryan (US) bt 5-Juergen Melzer (Aut)/ Philipp Petzschner (Ger) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; James Cerratani (US)/ Philipp Marx (Ger) bt Michael Llodra (Fra)/ Nenad Zimonjic (Srb) 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 5-7. 


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