Women’s Semifinal Preview: Kvitova, Sharapova, Azarenka Bid For No. 1 Ranking And Australian Open Final
by Staff | January 25th, 2012, 9:33 pm
  • 111 Comments

With No. 1 on the line, four of the best hardcourt players meet tonight in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Kim Clijsters (2011) and Maria Sharapova (2008) are former Australian Open champions and former world No.1s. Both have also finished runner-up at Melbourne Park, Clijsters in 2004 (l. Henin) and Sharapova in 2007 (l. S.Williams). Clijsters has reached a further four SFs here; Sharapova, two.

Clijsters is gunning to become the 8th woman to defend the Australian Open title in the Open Era; including threeand four-year streaks, the AO defending champion has lifted the trophy 13 times. Having won the US Open in 2009-10, Clijsters would also become the 11th woman since 1946 to defend at least two different majors.

Clijsters and Sharapova are aiming to set up their first meeting in a Grand Slam final; the Russian prevailed when
they met in the semis here in 2007.

Victoria Azarenka and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova are making their respective Australian Open SF debuts. Both are former quarterfinalists at Melbourne Park, Azarenka in 2010 and Kvitova in 2011.

Azarenka has equaled her career-best Grand Slam result by reaching the Australian Open SFs. She also reached the
semis at 2011 Wimbledon. She is the sole semifinalist at the 2012 Australian Open who is still chasing her maiden
Grand Slam singles title.

Of the 68 players who have reached a Grand Slam final in the Open Era, 18 of them have reached their first Grand
Slam final at the Australian Open.

[11] Kim Clijsters (BEL #14) vs. [3] Victoria Azarenka (BLR #3)
Head-to-head: Clijsters leads 4-2
If this does turn out to be Kim Clijsters’ last hurrah at the Australian Open, she is going the right way about leaving a lasting impression. After playing through the pain barrier of a twisted ankle and fending off four match points against Li Na, Clijsters then rolled back the years in a straight sets win over top seed Caroline Wozniacki on Tuesday.

The ominous sight of Clijsters dissecting the soon-to-be-usurped World No.1 on Rod Laver will not have made pleasant viewing for her semifinal foe, Victoria Azarenka. Yet the Belarusian sent out a message of her own in her quarterfinal with Agnieszka Radwanska, recovering from the psychological blow of losing seven straight points in the first set tiebreak to reel off the next two sets for the loss of just two games.

Radwanska is the first player to take a set from Azarenka in Melbourne, and it is testament to the new positive approach the World No.3 brings to the court that she rebounded from this setback in such convincing fashion. One year ago, it was questionable whether she possessed the mental fortitude to deal with the ignominy of failing to win a point in a tie-break. This year she does, and responded by stepping inside the baseline, taking on both Radwanska’s first and second serves and bludgeoning 39 winners in the process.

Against Clijsters, one of the best athletes on the WTA, she will need more than just power, though. The defending champion is more than capable of trading groundstrokes from the back of the court and showed against Li that her will to win is as strong as ever. Clijsters leads the head-to-head 4-2, although any mental edge this provides is blunted by the memory of their most recent meeting, won 63 63 by Azarenka in Miami last year.

[4] Maria Sharapova (RUS #4) vs. [2] Petra Kvitova (CZE #2)
Head-to-head: Kvitova leads 2-1
It is not often that Maria Sharapova plays second fiddle to anyone on a tennis court. But in last year’s Wimbledon final, she did just that, as an inspired Petra Kvitova overpowered her 63 64 in under one and a half hours. How much Sharapova has learnt from this chastening defeat will be clear for all to see on Thursday, as she locks horns with Kvitova once more, this time with a place in the Australian Open final at stake.

As evidenced by their Centre Court meeting, Kvitova is one of the few players capable of out hitting Sharapova for an entire match. However, the Czech’s passage into the semifinals in Melbourne has been far from serene, and the lapses in concentration against both Sara Errani and Carla Su├írez Navarro are sure to have encouraged the Russian. Against a supreme competitor like Sharapova, another mid-match walkabout could prove fatal.

Despite deciding against playing a pre-Australian Open tune-up tournament, Sharapova arrived in Melbourne in a rich vein of form. The 2008 champion dropped just five games in the first three rounds and, in her only test thus far, produced her best tennis of the fortnight to see off the hard-hitting Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round.

A good serving display is crucial to Sharapova’s hopes of exorcising her Wimbledon demons. Double faults have plagued the 24-year-old in several of her biggest matches over the past few years, and by keeping these to a minimum, whilst also maintaining a high first serve percentage, she has a chance of putting Kvitova on the back foot. Putting Kvitova on the back foot is easier said than done, though, and the Czech knows that if she is at her free-swinging best on Rod Laver it is likely to render service statistics inconsequential.

Source: WTA


Also Check Out:
Sharapova v Lisicki the Popcorn Match; Wimbledon Women’s Semi Previews
Australian Open Women’s Preview: Will Serena Win A Sixth Australian Open?
Azarenka, Kvitova Reach WTA Championships Semifinals; Wozniacki Eliminated
Sharapova, Kvitova Clash in Women’s Wimbledon Final
US Open Women’s Preview: Serena v Maria Final?

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111 Comments for Women’s Semifinal Preview: Kvitova, Sharapova, Azarenka Bid For No. 1 Ranking And Australian Open Final

Kimberly Says:

Great, thanks for this thread tennisx. Now I don’t have to clog up the fedal thread talking about the wta during the match.


jane Says:

Thanks for the ladies preview – can’t wait for these matches. i think (hope) they’ll be good.


Lulu Iberica Says:

C’mon Kim! (sorry Kimberly!)


Kimberly Says:

They are discussing the grunting again on tv. Go to any tennis club, people grunt. Especially if they are actually hitting the ball with all their might. It’s the high pitched voices that I think are iritating people as no one seems to complain about anyone but sharapova and vika.


Kimberly Says:

Nice hold.


jane Says:

Azarenka has had good luck with those short shorts. Unlike a certain Spaniard who seems to have disappeared (Robredo anyone? Is he injured? Retired?)


Kimberly Says:

Jane, I bought them, kaiser said they looked dumb.


Kimberly Says:

I think injured, I never heard he retired.


S Green Says:

I somehow think it would look nice if Azarenka and Kvitova get a chance to fight it out for the top spot.


Lulu Iberica Says:

I think I don’t like Azarenka’s game. This is pretty boring. Bash, bash, bash.


Lulu Iberica Says:

Maybe it’s because Kim’s a little flat.


Kimberly Says:

I love her game actually. Think she is adding variety and improved movement.


Kimberly Says:

I love her game actually. Think she is adding variety and improved movement.


Lulu Iberica Says:

I think maybe I just don’t like her! I can’t appreciate her at all. Is anyone ever going to come to the net in this match?


Kimberly Says:

Ahhhh, sigh of Relief, the heat won.


Kimberly Says:

Can azarenka serve out the set or is this the turning point.


Kimmi Says:

i was on the wrong thread. good to see everyone here. Go Kim!


Humble Rafa Says:

Andy Murray = Lady Forehand
Kim Clijsters = Baby Forehand


Kimberly Says:

Azarenka plays loose game and Kim gets the break. Kimmi, I was about t ask where you were!


Kimberly Says:

And vika misses a total sitter overhead


Humble Rafa Says:

Licking my chops…love beating the heck out of the Arrogant One.


Kimmi Says:

Kim wakes up..vika helping a little. c’mon Kim


Kimmi Says:

second break. now HOLD kim


Kimberly Says:

I smell baking, azarenka not holding it together at all


Kimberly Says:

Humble rafa, we are trying to have a nice time enjoying thieves two ladies matches. You practice, your serve, strokes etc.


Kimberly Says:

These two not thieves two


jane Says:

Well, so much for the short shorts theory, lol. Azarenka has gone right off the boil.


jane Says:

Kimberly, have they worked for you? Obviously not with the hubby, hee hee.

Tommy must be injured. But I just can’t recall hearing much, and I think he is over 30 yes?


Kimmi Says:

Yes Kim. now to decider. Get yourself together Kim.

Humble rafa can stay on men’s thread.


Kimberly Says:

Only wear them to the gym as kaiser said they looked silly for tennis. My winning dresses are vika and Maria Miami 2011 dresses.

What a dismal set for azarenka her feet look stuck. She looks helpless like when she blew a lead against Williams in 2010.


Kimberly Says:

Double fault fest?


jane Says:

She just needs to get some more first serves in if she wants a chance. Kim was hitting well in the second though.

Be interesting to see what happens.

Chris “The least errors wins”.


jane Says:

Wow what a forehand for the break.


Kimmi Says:

uh-ho Kim downhill again. seasaw match


Kimmi Says:

C;mon Kim..chance here


Kimmi Says:

aaah, DF. what a gift. wrapped with a red bow.


Kimberly Says:

I don’t understand, how hard is it to hit a top spin second serve that goes in? No one will tee off on it and it goes in? Azarenka worse than sharapova on dfs this match.


jane Says:

Yes, and one to give up her one break lead: seriously problematic. Nerves?


Kimmi Says:

vika back on business. Kim needs to hang in there


jane Says:

Great serve out wide by Kim. Crowd hugely behind her.


Kimmi Says:

backhand on the net..oh dear. needs to hold here

OUT..oh no! break point.


Kimmi Says:

Kimmie wrapped her own present.


Kimberly Says:

Now H O L D. Do not double fault


Kimmi Says:

match is running away from kim..too many errors now.


Kimmi Says:

sad for Kimmie. Its great for azarenka is reach her first GS final.


Kimmi Says:

“to” reach


Kimmi Says:

KIM oh noo!


Kimberly Says:

I’m getting very nervous. Worried I will choke for her.


Kimberly Says:

Too good kim


Kimberly Says:

Missed another lob, just let it bounce if you can’t do anything but make errors


jane Says:

Breaks back wow, what a see-saw match, so much drama!


Kimberly Says:

And she let’s her back in the match.


Kimmi Says:

wow, from 40-0 azarenka to kimmie breaking. now, can she HOLD!


Kimmi Says:

kim now 0-30. who is going to win this..sure vika.


jane Says:

0-40, oy, yoy, yoy.


Kimmi Says:

DF..seriously, this is the problem with women tennis. cant hold.


jane Says:

Nice points here. Both are playing well right now (other than the serving).


jane Says:

Break, can Vika serve it out??????? That is the freaking question. Lol.


Kimmi Says:

BREAK! too much mountain to climb for kim there. Now azarenka turn to serve. serving for the first GS final.


Kimmi Says:

2 points away.


Kimmi Says:

3 match points..


Kimberly Says:

Oh no double fault


Kimberly Says:

Tough against a player you know saved four match points the other day


Kimmi Says:

Kim make an error to give it away. congrats azarenka. I hope dear god it is not sharapova in the final.


jane Says:

Hoooooooo, she does it! Congrats to Vika. This is really huge for her, and I can’t help but be pleased for her. She was so determined throughout.

She is so overcome.

Sad for Kim, though,


Kimberly Says:

Her reaction was touching. She has worked so hard.


S Green Says:

One down, one to go for the classic final: the ultimate battle for No. 1.
Go Kvitova.


Kimberly Says:

I know you guys like Kim but I think it’s nice that the title match will also be played for the number one ranking.


jane Says:

S. Green, on my ladies bracket I actually picked a Kvitova and Azarenka final, but sort of by fluke. I mean, who knows with the ladies? I picked Kvitova to prevail. But I have a soft spot for Sharpie, so whatever happens I’ll be okay with. Petra will win many slams going forward, if not this one.


Humble Rafa Says:

Kim’s forehand breaks down too much.


Kimberly Says:

Very good match, too many nerves, errors, and poor serving form both to be a classic but a nice competitive match that could have gone either way.


Kimberly Says:

Go practice HR and don’t pick on others forehands, make sure yours holds up.


Kimberly Says:

I don’t understand kvitova outfit. I don’t think it matches at all or is flattering.

Nike will for sure have a champion on the women’s and a finalist of the men at least if not more.


carlo Says:

GO Kvitova POJD!


Kimberly Says:

Nice play from each in first two games


Kimberly Says:

Kvitova taking overhead lessons from azarenka?


Kimmi Says:

hmmm, bad missed smash


S Green Says:

Jane, congrats for getting those right. You are ready for gambling.
It would make sense to have a fight for heavy weight title plus the WTA No. 1 won’t be without a GS after ages.
I really do not have preference, no feelings; mine is only logical. Women’s tennis has been incomprehensible to me for a decade now. Logic does not work, almost always. Hoping it works for once in a decade.


Kimmi Says:

break break back break..hmmm.

have a good night guys. i will try to sleep. passed midnight here.


Kimberly Says:

I know Kimmi. I am going to watch a few more games and try to crash.


jane Says:

S. Green, not sure if I’ll be right. Sharapova has started really strongly.

Her returns are Novak-like.

But it’s early-goings. Let’s see if she serves out set one.


jane Says:

Night Kimmi. Are you waking up for Fedal? I am guessing no. ;)


S Green Says:

I can see WTA can financially benefit more from Sharapova’s win than others. She’s more market value.


jane Says:

^ I can see that S Green: kind of like Fedal for the ATP, would you say?

Maria is not getting first serves in now; it’s making it tough. Petra is all over her seconds, which immediately puts her on defence. But Petra could move better. She looks a big flat-footed.


jane Says:

Petra’s forehand when it clicks is a thing of beauty.


jane Says:

Third set: I feel like momentum is with Kvitova. Anyone else watching? Not sure I can last the entire set, too tired.


Ike Says:

hey jane, come on, stay awake, i m watching the match, and rooting for Petra!


Eric Says:

omg get it together kvitova


Ike Says:

Petra, really needs to focus for next 20 minutes!


Ike Says:

here we go, one more UE from Petra.
Petra, please focus!


Ike Says:

all right, we are back on serve now


Ike Says:

all important seventh game!


Ike Says:

can’t imagine Azrenka vs Sharapova final! it will be so much grunting / moaning / shrieking, very painful!


jane Says:

Wow, this one is down to the wire. Petra’s serve may make the difference. Or Sharpie’s fight? Hmmm.


carlo Says:

Azarenka and Sharapova final. It will be unwatchable for me. :( and I starting to like wta, I thought.

But, there is still a faint glimmer of hope for Petra. pojd, pojd…


Eric Says:

ah the vicissitudes of chance. once more the less deserving player manages to win just by hanging on


carlo Says:

It’s a shame. Petra had her chances. Sad.


jane Says:

Petra’s errors, it turned out. Wow. Who’d've ever thunk Sharapova would be the steadier one? Not I.

Congrats to Maria. This is huge for her, to be back after all that shoulder surgery. Wow.

Sad for Petra, but it’ll be a good learning tool.

Maria just lost me my bracket, ha ha, but that’s okay.

Screaming blondes will fight for the trophy.


Ike Says:

oh well :(


andrea Says:

petra really has to find a better way to express herself – that primal shriek is really a bit off putting. and fair enough, maria is shrieking on every point, but petra’s noise is like nails on a chalk board.

congrats to maria – felt her serve was gonna blow up, but she held on.


Ike Says:

not sure if i wanna get up early Sat morning to watch the “shouting match” between Azrenka and Sharapova!


margot Says:

Just watched Maria’s iron will win. You’ve just got to love her, shrieks and all. Kvitova was a bit of a car crash at the end.
Congrats jane, as S. Green suggests surely a new career awaits ;)
kimmi: you’ll have to but some ear plugs for the final. It’s gonna be LOUD!


carlo Says:

Definitely Not getting up to watch that final. It’s hard enough hearing one. Both…too much.


jane Says:

margot, you silly. I lost. You, me dear, won. I think in three of the four scenarios you’d win the ladies bracket challenge. I’d've only won if the Iron Lady / Pretty Woman didn’t prevail. So congrats are in order to you! Vegas next?


jane Says:

Oops I am wrong again, ha ha. There were six scenarios. I guess I do (or could) win? Too blooming tired to stay up for the big gun showdown. Good luck. May the winner be happy and then lose to the winner of Muzz/Nole. ;)


margot Says:

jane: I went with the older guard. Very, very silly me…smack ;)


J2datzO Says:

So for all of you who continue to live in the lie about US tennis. Chew this over. How blatant a spit in the face is that which doesn’t go on here in the states for tennis. Both Sharapova & Azarenka are 3rd world white trash from basically slavic ghettos, who still claim their original nat’l id.s but live & train exclusively here. Wow! & I had to suffer watching this nation’s tripe in Serena, (thankfully she’s on the descent) “succeed.” But really her ‘give it all you got’ attitude was what C Barkley says is ‘you gotta have a little ghetto in you to compete @ this lvl.’ Therein lies the rub, the middle class hacking around a sport when at least their energies are better spent pushing the game outward. Instead of tearing our own potential down. If the trollops on reality tv can earn obscene paychecks for making asses out of themselves on a nationwide basis, I am sure a tiny but consistent bit of attention can be directed @ using even the slightest % of ESPN’s $2.3B annual rev for more US nat’l level tennis dev. Really?!


Lulu Iberica Says:

Congratulations, Kimberly! You’re 4 for 4 — the Heat, Azarenka, Sharapova, and most important RAFA!

Azarenka really dug in for that win, and she did make a few successful forays to the net. Her fight was impressive. Still, I’ll be rooting for Maria in the final.


Lulu Iberica Says:

Eric, I don’t see how the player who couldn’t “hang on” could possibly be more deserving than the one who did. Perseverance counts for a lot!

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Rankings
ATP - Nov 17 WTA - Nov 17
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Kei Nishikori5 Ana Ivanovic
6 Andy Murray6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Tomas Berdych7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Milos Raonic8 Caroline Wozniacki
9 Marin Cilic9 Angelique Kerber
10 David Ferrer10 Dominika Cibulkova
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