Sharapova,Kvitova set up Oz Open semifinal clash

Reigning Wimbledon winner had beaten Sharapova in their last Grand Slam meeting.

Written by Agencies | Melbourne | Published: January 25, 2012 12:55:50 pm

Former and reigning Wimbledon winners Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova will meet in the Australian Open semifinals after both won in straight sets on Wednesday.

After Kvitova beat unseeded Italian Sara Errani 6-4,6-4,Sharapova set up a repeat of last year’s final at the All England Club with a 6-2,6-3 defeat of fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

Kvitova beat Sharapova 6-3,6-4 in their last Grand Slam meeting to claim her first major title.

“Obviously it was a tough one at Wimbledon,” Sharapova said. “She’s full of confidence and playing the best tennis right now. I look forward to it.”

Three of the men’s top four are already into the semifinals after Andy Murray ended the run of Japan’s Kei Nishikori with a 6-3,6-3,6-1 win.

The No. 4-ranked Murray will face the winner of a later match between defending champion Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer of Spain.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 27th time in the other semifinal,scheduled for Thursday.

Nishikori,the first Japanese man to reach the quarterfinals here in the Open era,showed flashes of the form that earned him a surprise win over former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the previous round.

During the first set,Nishikori played a lob shot through his legs on his way to winning the point – but by that time he was already a break down.

Murray,who hasn’t dropped a set since the first round,broke seven times in all,although he plans to work on his serve after only landing 44 percent of his first serves.

“The returning was good,so that was positive,” said Murray,the beaten finalist the last two years here. “Could hav eserved better,that’s for sure.”

In winning their quarterfinals,Sharapova and Kvitova also kept alive their chances of claiming the top ranking,which Caroline Wozniacki will vacate on Monday after her quarterfinal loss to Kim Clijsters.

Sharapova must repeat her 2008 Australian title win. Kvitova only has to match or better the run of Victoria Azarenka,the only other player still in the running this week for the No. 1 spot.

Sharapova has dropped one set and lost 21 games en route to her first Australian Open semifinal since she won the 2008 final – the last of her three major titles.

“It’s been a long road back to this stage,” said Sharapova,who spent 10 months off court with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Kvitova was far from her best against an opponent making her debut in a Grand Slam quarterfinal,and with a 0-24 record against top 10 players. The second-seeded Czech made 44 errors and had to come back from a break down in the second set.

“I was a little nervous because I knew that everybody expect it will be easy match,” Kvitova said. “Probably I had in my head that it’s a good draw.”

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