The beginning of the 2012 Australian Open semifinal matchup between Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova followed a pattern that stood out. Both players held serve and traded breaks, creating an even match right from the start, and perhaps signaling what's to come.
Tied at 2-2, with each player converting their only break point chances, Sharapova took the advantage, breaking Kvitova's serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 advantage. It was Sharapova's second shot at a break and second conversion, keeping her perfect for the match.
And yet, after the match started looking fairly even, Sharapova hit the gas pedal and put it to the floor. Quickly, the 3-2 set turned into 5-2 as Sharapova overwhelmed Kvitova and set herself up in prime position to easily take the first set.
In the eighth game, Sharapova continued her run, taking advantage of her second chance to close the second. With a bending serve, she left Kvitova flat-footed, earning the game and the set to take a 1-0 advantage, 6-2.