Azarenka and Sharapova saw off Clijsters and Kvitova in the semi-finals of the Australian Open and will now fight it out for the title and to become number one.
Belgium’s Kim Clijsters’ defence of her Australian Open title is over after she lost to Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals. Azarenka will now go on to face Maria Sharapova in a final where two prizes are at stake. As well as lifting the trophy, the winner of the match will also move to the number spot in the WTA ranking.
In the first of the semi-finals to be played, Azarenka advanced to her first ever Grand Slam final, beating the tournament’s reigning champion Kim Clijsters, with a score of 6-4, 1-6, 6-2. After an even opening set, which the Belarusian took, Clijsters reacted well, thanks in part to the support she received from the crowd.
The Belgian composed herself well and won the second set convincingly. However, in the encounter’s decisive set, both players allowed their nerves to get the better of them, as they conceded breaks in service to one another, as well as committing numerous double faults. Just as it looked as if Clijsters’ experience was going to pull her through, it was Azarenka who had the last word, collecting herself and winning the game thanks to her fighting spirit.
Her rival for the title will be Maria Sharapova of Russia, who won the other, equally hard-fought, three set semi-final against world number two Petra Kvitova. The match took over four hours and finished 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. The Australian Open champion in 2008 could possibly pick up her fourth Grand Slam after eliminating a player who for many was the favourite to win the tournament. After Sharapova clearly dominated the first set, Kvitova found her second wind in the second and, thanks to the kind of play that helped her lift the Madrid Open and Wimbledon last year, came back into the match.
In the third set nerves took over. Sharapova’s service game was by no means at it’s sharpest but Kvitova wasn’t able to take advantage of it, and her ineffectiveness in break point situations was to be her undoing. Because of that Sharapova triumped, winning five break points out of five and killing off the match.
Perhaps the most exciting female Grand Slam of the past few years comes to an end this Saturday, with the added bonus for whoever wins the final of not only lifting the trophy, but also taking Caroline Wozniacki’s position as tennis world’s new queen. Sharapova, who already knows how it feels to win the Australian Open and to be number one, will be counting on her experience to see her through, however, as Azarenka showed in the semi final, she can cope with that. Whatever happens, a spectacle is guaranteed.