Sharapova, Kvitova will clash in semis

Maria Sharapova celebrates after winning her quarterfinal match against Kaia Kanepi during the...

Maria Sharapova celebrates after winning her quarterfinal match against Kaia Kanepi during the French Open in Paris on June 6, 2012. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

PARIS - Former top-ranked star Maria Sharapova and reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova were Wednesday's quarterfinal winners at the 2012 French Open.

The second-seeded Sharapova routed 23rd seed Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-3 in 74 minutes on Court Chatrier, while the fourth-seeded Czech lefthander Kvitova came from behind to stave off Kazakhstani qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Court Lenglen.

"I'm happy with the way I improved in this match," said Sharapova, who struggled against Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova in her previous outing.

The three-time major champion Sharapova and Kvitova will do battle in the semifinals Thursday on the famed red clay at Roland Garros. Kvitova captured her first career major title last year by beating Sharapova in the Wimbledon finale.

Sharapova piled up seven service breaks, compared to three for Kanepi on Day 11 in Paris.

"It was tough to get any rhythm today because balls were flying so hard from her side," Kanepi said. "It's unfortunate that I didn't stay that long on the court. I enjoyed being there."

The 25-year-old Russian, who needs a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, will appear in her second straight and third overall semi at Roland Garros. She has never reached the French final.

"I love coming back here, love challenging myself to get further every year and I hope this is this year," Sharapova said.

Sharapova was this year's Australian Open runner-up to current world No. 1 star Victoria Azarenka.

Kvitova trailed Shvedova 2-4 in the final set Wednesday before righting the ship with four straight game wins to close out their round-of-eight match. The powerful Czech converted on her second match point when Shvedova sent one final backhand wide of the court.

The 22-year-old Kvitova overcame the 24-year-old Shvedova in 1 hour, 53 minutes by swatting 24 more winners (38-14) than her Kazakhstani counterpart.

"It wasn't easy," Kvitova said. "My serve helped me and I played my aggressive game."

Shvedova, who toppled defending French Open champion Li Na here on Monday, was appearing in her second Roland Garros quarterfinal in three years (0-2).

Kvitova will now appear in her first-ever French Open and fourth career Grand Slam semifinal (1-2).

Sharapova and Kvitova will meet for a sixth time on Thursday, with the Russian leading their lifetime series, 3-2. Sharapova is 2-0 against the Czech slugger this year, with semifinal victories at the Aussie Open and on some clay in Stuttgart back in April. The two women will meet for the third time in the last four Slams.

Thursday's other semifinal will pit sixth-seeded U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur against 21st-seeded Italian Sara Errani. The Aussie Stosur is a perfect 5-0 lifetime against the 25-year-old Errani, including a straight-set victory in Rome just last month.

Stosur will play in her fourth career major semi (2-1), while Errani will perform in her first.

Errani, who already owns three clay-court titles this season, beat a pair of former French Open champs in Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009) in the third and fourth round here, respectively.

The 28-year-old Stosur was the French Open runner-up two years ago.

This year's first-time French Open champ will pocket $1.5 million.


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