Maria is through to her third final at the Australian Open in Melbourne after she defeated No.2 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-2 3-6 6-4 in 2 hours and 12 minutes.
At 1-1 in the first set, Maria broke Kvitova’s serve when Kvitova misses an overhead. In the next game, Maria loses her serve as the set is level 2-2. The momentum then swings Maria’s way as she wins three straight games to lead 5-2. Serving for the match, Maria battles back from 0-40 to win the set 6-2 on a service winner.
Kvitova breaks Maria in the second game and races into a 3-0 lead in the second set. From that point on, both players hold their serve as the one break of serve is enough for Kvitova as she takes the set 6-3.
In the third set, Kvitova breaks Maria to lead 2-1 when Maria hits a backhand into the net. Maria immediately breaks Kvitova in the next game when Kvitova hits a shot long. At 4-4 0-30 on Maria’s serve, Maria wins a challenge on a backhand that was called long and wins three more points to lead 5-4. Maria breaks in the next game and wins the match when Kvitova hits a forehand long.
In Saturday’s final to be played at 19.30 local time (9.30CET, 3.30ET & 12.30PT), Maria will face No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. Maria has played the 22-year-old six times before and the series is tied 3-3. Here are the matches they have played against each other:
Moscow 2007 R2: Azarenka won 7-6 6-2
Los Angeles 2009 R2: Maria won 6-7 6-4 6-2
Beijing 2009 R2: Maria won 6-3 6-7 7-5
Stanford 2010 Final: Azarenka won 6-4 6-1
Miami 2011 Final: Azarenka won 6-1 6-4
Rome 2011 Quarter-Final: Maria won 4-6 3-0 ret.
In the WTA rankings, Maria provisionally moves up to No.3 with 7560 points. If Maria defeats Azarenka in Saturday’s final she will be No.1.