Maria Sharapova Advances To 2012 Australian Open Finals With Win Over Petra Kvitova

Heading into the third set, it seemed the match was getting away from Maria Sharapova. She came out and ran away with the first set, putting Petra Kvitova away 6-2 after it opened back-and-forth. But in the second, she lost her serve as the wheels came off, leading to a 6-3 set in favor of Kvitova. It seemed like momentum was in Kvitova's favor.

In the third, it was a game of who could actually hold the serve, instead of the typical battle to break. Sharapova went down 2-1, following a Kvitova break point, but rallied right back with a break of her own. With the set knotted at two, one had to wonder if Sharapova could actually find her serve and hold.

She did just that, but it was a battle, filled with displays of emotion from both players. The game went to deuce before Sharapova took the advantage and came up big to hold serve. A long return caught the baseline and Kvitova's return was wide, giving Sharapova a 3-2 lead in the set and a bit of momentum going forward.

Kvitova held her serve, then put Sharapova on the ropes with two break point chances in the seventh game. Down 15-40, Sharapova rallied back, forcing deuce. After the game flipped back-and-forth between deuce and advantages, Sharapova took advantage and was close it out, thwarting multiple break point chances along the way.

At 4-4, Sharapova again ran into trouble, but battled back as she did before to take the game, holding her serve and pushing the third set to 5-4. And then, Sharapova earned a double match point, taking a 40-15 lead in the 10th game. There was little drama in the ensuing rally as the two traded shots before Kvitova's return went long, giving Sharapova the 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win and a trip to the finals.

Sharapova will meet Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Kim Clijsters earlier, in the finals.

Follow along with the semifinal matchups of the 2012 Australian Open in this StoryStream. For more on the tournament, visit our tennis hub.

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