Kvitova, Sharapova reach semis

Petra Kvitova celebrates during her singles quarterfinal match against Sara Errani at the...

Petra Kvitova celebrates during her singles quarterfinal match against Sara Errani at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

MELBOURNE - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and former Melbourne titlist Maria Sharapova will square off in the semifinals at the 2012 Australian Open.

The second-seeded Kvitova topped upstart Italian Sara Errani 6-4, 6-4 in just under two hours, as the Czech slugger tallied 36 winners, compared to just 17 for Errani on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old Kvitova rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to become the first Czech woman to reach the semifinals at the Aussie Open since Jana Novotna in 1991.

Kvitova beat Sharapova in last year's Wimbledon finale and is also the reigning WTA Championships titlist.

"I'm really [happy] to be here in the semifinal," Kvitova said. "It's my second best result in a Grand Slam, so really it's nice."

The 24-year-old Errani was playing in her first-ever major quarterfinal.

Kvitova will next take on the fourth-seeded Sharapova, who handled fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-3 on Day 10 of this steamy Down Under fortnight.

Sharapova recorded 26 winners and won 71% of her first serves to advance to the semis in Melbourne for the fist time since winning here in 2008. She improved to a perfect 5-0 in her Aussie Open quarters.

"I just really wanted to take advantage of my game and improve from the previous match," Sharapova said. "I think I stepped up when I had to."

Makarova failed to build on her huge upset of Serena Williams in the fourth round on Monday.

On Thursday, Kvitova will be opposed by the 24-year-old Sharapova and third- seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka will take on 11th-seeded reigning Aussie Open champ Kim Clijsters of Belgium. Azarenka was a titlist in Sydney two weeks ago.

Kvitova beat the former world No. 1 and three-time major champion Sharapova in last year's Wimbledon finale to capture her first-ever Grand Slam title and the blossoming Czech has a 2-1 lifetime advantage against the Russian superstar.

Sharapova captured the Aussie title in '08 and was the runner-up here in 2007.

The 28-year-old Clijsters is 4-2 all-time against the 22-year-old Azarenka, but Azarenka won their last meeting, in Miami, last season.

Clijsters owns four major titles, including last year's Aussie Open championship when she topped China's Li Na in the final. She was also a runner-up in Melbourne back in 2004.

Either Kvitova, Azarenka or Sharapova will become No. 1 in the world on Monday, supplanting Caroline Wozniacki, who succumbed to Clijsters here on Tuesday.


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