Big-hitting Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic reached her first Wimbledon final on Thursday when she defeated Belorussian fourth seed Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in a roller-coaster semifinal.
In Saturday's final, the 21-year-old, who is the first Czech since Jana Novotna in 1998 to make the title match, will tackle 2004 champion Maria Sharapova who ended German wildcard Sabine Lisicki's run with a 6-4, 6-3 win.
Eighth-seeded Kvitova is also the first left-hander to make the final at the All England Club since her childhood inspiration Martina Navratilova, watching from the Royal Box on Centre Court, in 1990.
“I saw Martina in the locker room and she wished me good luck. I'm so happy but I don't really believe I am in the final,” said Kvitova, whose 40 winners to Azarenka's nine were the foundation of her triumph.
Kvitova, with her right thigh tightly-strapped, raced through the first set in just 27 minutes, breaking in the fourth and sixth games, racking up 13 winners and firing six howitzer aces past a hapless Azarenka.
But the fired-up fourth-seeded Belarussian, playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal, stopped her opponent's run of five successive games with a break in the second game of the second set helping her into a 3-0 lead.
Kvitova, who had never won a match on grass before her run to the semifinals last year, had to save two break points at 1-4 as the match threatened to run away from her. Azarenka levelled the match in the ninth game on a third set point when Kvitova went long with a forehand.
Kvitova, who had defeated Azarenka in the third round here last year, then shook off the shackles at the start of the third set and jumped out to a 3-1 with a break in the second game.
She fought off two break points in the fourth game, which she secured with her ninth ace of the tie and wrapped up the match when Azarenka popped up a limp second double fault in the eighth game.
Sharapova overcame a slow start to overwhelm wildcard Lisicki and advance to her first Wimbledon final in seven years.
World No.62 Lisicki, who had stunned second seeded French Open champion Li Na during a fairytale run to the last four, was always in trouble after her powerful serve deserted her in the first set.
“It's amazing to be back in the final at Wimbledon, it's been a while,” a delighted Sharapova said afterwards.
“I'm really happy even though I didn't play my best tennis today,” added Sharapova, who totted up 13 double-faults during a patchy display.
“To be in the final is a great achievement for me but I still feel like I've got more to do.”
Sixth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza routed the Czech duo of Martin Damm and Renata Voracova 6-3, 6-0 to breeze into the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
They will next face Paul Hanley and Su-Wei Hsieh.
Keywords: Wimbledon 2011